Connect with nature this autumn

credit Suzsanna Bird

Autumn is here, and our Head of Communities and Wildlife is taking stock and reconnecting with the wild.

Autumn is here... the air smells different, the light is different, the days are getting noticeably shorter and there is a chill in the air. For some people this can bring on symptoms of depression and the feeling of wanting to go and hibernate from the rest of the world. 

I always feel a certain sadness knowing that the summer is over, those fabulously long warm days and endless summer evenings. Spring and summer are my favourite seasons, especially in the garden. Spring is for growing seeds, nurturing them and watching in anticipation as tiny seeds grow into delicious vegetables or vibrant flowers that attract bees, butterflies, hoverflies, ladybirds and a whole host of other insects. They in turn feed many of our resident birds including the two blue tit families who this year took up residence in one of our nest boxes and a hole in the branch of our old apple tree.

Nature is good for us

We have all read that connection with nature, whether it is walking in a woodland, visiting your local nature reserve or gardening is beneficial for our health and wellbeing. In our increased urbanised and technologically driven world, reconnecting with nature can have a huge positive impact on our mental health. Studies have found that spending time in green spaces helps people to de-stress and relax and helps reduce depression and anxiety. 

Everybody always says to me how lucky I must be working for the Wildlife Trust, I certainly don't deny this... .but because of the nature of my job, I do spend a lot of time in front of a computer, and a lot of time indoors. This really is unfortunate as we have some of the most amazing nature reserves in our three counties, some of which are right on the doorstep of whichever office I am working from.

However, for me it's my garden that helps me feel at one with the world. After a busy and stressful day, it puts everything back into perspective and gives me a renewed sense of wellbeing. For my husband who suffered from a stroke a few years back, it has given him a renewed sense of purpose which the stroke stole from him. Our garden gives us time to be together, to work side by side and to just sit and enjoy all our efforts especially when we see the benefits to wildlife.

Connecting with autumn in the garden

Now the summer is over, our garden is moving into its next stage and has taken on a warm glow as the sun is shrinking back into the soil. Does our garden look bleak and dead, is it time for us to hibernate? Absolutely not... autumn is very good for us and our garden is proving this.

The other day we both sat on the slightly damp bench reflecting on our gardening successes and failures of this year. We were amazed by how the garden was entering its next stage. The spindle berry bush next to us was an incredible explosion of acid pink and orange berries, the air was full of the smell of damp, sweet ‘cidery’ apples that were slowly rotting on the ground, a gentle sound of humming was coming from bees that were busy drinking the nectar from the late flowering ivy along the fence. Verbena, sedum and cosmos were providing the garden with early autumn colour and seed heads from teasels, scabious, and poppies were providing not only food for the birds, but also overwintering homes for insects and were giving the garden a certain architecture as other plants around were beginning to die down. 

The robin who seems to follow us around the garden sat above us in the apple tree and sang his heart out, a sound that reverberates through the soul and can only lift the saddest of feelings .

Robin at Chettisham Meadow NR by Richard Nicoll_05Apr2011

Robin at Chettisham Meadow NR by Richard Nicoll_05Apr2011

Embrace the season

I think our garden is sending out a message loud and clear to us. Don’t let the changing season drag you down. Instead embrace it, take stock of the amazing changing colours, experience the beauty of the season, the smells, the sounds and of course the tastes of late blackberries, apples and hazelnuts. 

Keats famously described autumn as “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”

It is the season for us all to mellow out and take stock of what has already been achieved this year but it is also time to look ahead and make new and exciting plans for the future.

Why not wrap up warm and experience autumn at its best by visiting one of our nature reserves, or join our team on one of the many seasonal events that we hold throughout our three counties.