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Lots of leaves

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Oct 8 2017 11:00AM

Britain's arboretums (technically it's arboreta) are some of the finest and best managed tree collections in the world and October is a great month to visit one. You'll be treated to a dramatic display of colour as autumn really takes hold.

Here's our top 10 arboretums to visit but there are plenty more out there and there’s bound to be one near you.

The National Arboretum, Westonbirt – the country’s best known collection and simply stunning throughout the autumn.

Bodenham Arboretum, Worcestershire – more than 150 acres in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey – a National Trust property, deliberately planted to produce a dramatic autumn display.

Harcourt Arboretum, Oxfordshire – a historic collection, now part of Oxford University.

Kilmun Arboretum, Argyll and Bute –part of the Argyll forest and recently named as the best arboretum for autumnal photography.

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, Yorkshire – not strictly an arboretum but a stunning garden and medieval deer park that form part of a World Heritage landscape.

Derby Arboretum, Derby - the first publicly owned urban, recreational park in England and now Grade II listed by English Heritage.

RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey – the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship garden in glorious Surrey countryside.

Cardinham Wood, Cornwall – a Forestry Commission property criss-crossed with walking and cycling trails, perfect for enjoying the Cornish scenery.

Rowallane Garden, Northern Ireland – one of the most beautiful gardens in Northern Ireland.

Why do leaves change colour in autumn?

During the summer trees produce two chemicals that they need for photosynthesis (the process by which they “breath”, converting water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen). The first chemical, chlorophyll, is green and the second, carotene, is yellow. To produce chlorophyll, trees need both warmth and light so when the cooler days and longer nights of autumn come, chlorophyll production stops. As the green chlorophyll fades away, the carotene remains - this is the yellow that you see. Anthocyanin, a third chemical, is produced when sugars in the leaf become concentrated and trapped in the leaves as the tree prepares for winter. This is the red colour that you see - it’s the same chemical that makes some apples and grapes red.

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