We are familiar with the spring and autumn equinoxes. Our Autumn equinox occurred yesterday at about 8.20pm when the earth's equator in the northern hemisphere was directly below the centre of the sun making the length of daylight and darkness equal ... well, almost.
Sunset over lagoon, Middleton Lakes RSPB reserve, Staffordshire. Photo: Colin Wilkinson (rspb-images.com)
The word Equinox is derived from the Latin words aequi meaning equal and nox meaning night. ... but are you familiar with the Equilux? aequi meaning equal and lux meaning light. The equilux happens two or three days after the equinox (when the centre of the sun passes over the equator) and is the actual time when the light of the day and night are exactly equal. The reason the light isn't exactly shared: 12 hrs each on the equinox is because there is light refraction from the curvature of the earth, refracting light up and around the curve and the disc shape of the sun means it takes some time for the sun to completely emerge and clear the horizon, from start to finish and this adds extra minutes of light to our day on the autumn equinox ... about 10 minutes extra in total.
BBC online clarifies the differences between the equinox and equilux and Earthsky also explain why day and night are not equal at the equinox.
So the equilux could actually be happening tomorrow 24th Sep or Saturday 25th (it's hard to find the definitive day and time!) but we know it means is the official end of our summer and the start of a glorious new Autumn season.
There are lots things we can do to help garden wildlife through the autumn. We can pile up leaves and twigs to make habitats for invertebrates and small mammals, leave ivy to flower rather than cutting back,; it's tiny flowers are a valuable late food source for bees, and the birds will relish the berries to follow. We can think about putting up bird-boxes and cleaning, making and positioning a hedgehog house and Gardeners’ world online offer their top 10 ways to help garden wildlife in autumn.
But I can't quite get into full autumn swing while the Chelsea flower show is on! When you see the show gardens, there are still so many summer perennials blooming with pinks, blues and purples, lots of beautiful ornamental grasses and prairie plants wafting in the late summer /early autumn breeze. It seems that some of the big trends this year are those that are also a great benefit to wildlife like meadow planting and ponds.
Chelsea Flower Show is continuing this week up to and including Sunday; you can buy tickets to attend the show in London here, and you can see all the programming info on BBC Two to discover lots of gardening tips and inspiration for this time of year.
For more inspiration on wildlife gardening, the Flatford Wildlife Garden, is currently open every day until October from 10.30am – 4.30pm. Entrance to the garden is free and well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome. Car parking is £5 at the Flatford National Trust car park and this gives you access to the stunning countryside walks around Flatford and Dedham Vale in Constable Country.
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