Britons find more joy in autumn colours than Christmas, study finds

The nights are drawing in and there is a chill in the air but research commissioned by a conservation charity suggests British people are increasingly finding solace at what can be a tricky time of year in the joy of autumn colour.

About a third of people questioned said enjoying the burst of gold, red, purples russet and orange that accompanies autumn was their favourite thing about the season, ahead of looking forward to Bonfire Night, the television schedule or even Christmas.

The National Trust said Britons were turning into “leaf peepers” – a pastime more usually associated with the US and Canada – and is hoping that, as long as it doesn’t get too stormy, a good season could be on the way.

According to the research, carried out by YouGov, almost three-quarters of people say they take note of how the trees change through the year with more than a quarter saying they notice trees more than at the start of the pandemic.

Celia Richardson, the director of communications and audience at the trust, said: “People are still saying they are closer to nature than they were before the pandemic began and we hope it’s here to stay. Connecting with nature is good for our health and wellbeing and makes people more likely to act to protect the natural world.”

Pamela Smith, the trust’s national gardens and parks specialist, said she was hoping it would be a good year for leaf fans, especially in the north.

“With above average sunshine levels for parts of northern England, most of Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland over the summer, we could see a fantastic autumn, particularly in these areas.

“Autumn colour is not only determined by what the actual weather is doing now,” she said. “The weather patterns throughout the year are also key – particularly levels of sunshine, but also levels of rainfall.

“Over the next two weeks we do need some more sunny days, more rain and colder temperatures – but staying above freezing – with no storms, to help boost what could be a really good year for autumn colour.”

Smith said it was likely to be a good season for berries too. “In the wild, the sorbus trees – commonly known as mountain ash or rowan are full of berries this year.

“This year is also a good year for our hawthorns. Their fruits, known as haws, highlight our hedgerows with their small, rose hip like fruits. Worth the search are the blackthorn fruits – sloes. These dark purple sharp fruits are a staple for foragers to make sloe gin.”