Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 15:36 UK

Weather sparks autumn spectacular

Trees [Photo: Dennis Steer]
Sheffield Park in East Sussex is full of autumn colour. Photo: Dennis Steer

Parks and forests in the UK are making up for the miserable summer by providing visitors with spectacular autumn leaf displays, experts say.

Public gardens have been carpeted in an array of deep red and yellow leaves, thanks to the year's unusual weather.

Experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, say a wet summer, followed by mild frost and some warm September days, were perfect for the display.

American oaks, ash, and sweet gum trees provide some of the best colours.

Tony Kirkham, head of arboretum at the Royal Botanical Gardens, said the wet summer provided good growing conditions for the trees.

An unusual mild frost on 28 September then helped the leaves turn to gold.

He said: "In September, we had some cold temperatures in the evening and warm, sunny days.

"The mild frost acts as an early warning to the trees to shut down for winter, so they can take some of the goodness out of the leaves and you get the good colours.

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"If you get a long frost, they don't get a chance to do that and the leaves fall quickly."

"We have a real variety of trees in Kew, so you get a rainbow of colours but we seem to be getting good autumn colour all over the country."

The National Trust says its gardens such as Sheffield Park in East Sussex and Stourhead in Wiltshire are attracting many visitors, keen to see the displays.

Meanwhile, the Woodland Trust says the wet summer has been good for nature, providing an abundance of fungi and berries for birds to feed on ahead of the winter.


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