Summer in the Forest
There is no better time to experience the Forest in all its glory than in the summer months. As the leafy canopies provide welcome shelter from the sun, you will find habitats alive with a rich diversity of plants, an abundance of wildflowers, thriving butterflies, and busy pollinators.
Wildflowers are in abundance during the summer months. You will catch the honey-like scent of lady’s bedstraw and see the glossy meadow buttercups as you wander throughout the Forest. Near the ponds and streams, you will see the purple flowers of loosestrife and knapweed. You might even catch a glimpse of the wonderful bee orchid with its striking flowers, hiding among the tall grasses.
You can identify the flowers you see with this handy summer wildflowers spotter’s guide or watch these videos created by our biodiversity team, to discover the flowers you can spot when you visit the Forest.
Bug and butterfly hunting
The varied mosaic of habitats that the Forest offers, and the mixed plant-life, supports a rich diversity of pollinators and other insects. Butterflies are thriving in the Forest. The once-rare marbled white is now rapidly growing in numbers locally, which is wonderful to see. The largest butterfly in the forest is the purple emperor, though it can be tricky to spot! It lives high in the tree canopy, but ventures down in the morning to feed on tree sap and animal dung.
Use our summer butterflies spotter’s guide to identify these and other butterflies.
The red-tailed bumblebee is a common sight in the Forest, identifiable by its orangey-red bottom as it flies from flower to flower.
If you see a delicate flash of blue or red over a pond, it could be the common blue, azure blue or the large red damselfly. Find out how to identify them, along with the larger dragonflies that also call the Forest home by clicking here.
Benefits for body and mind
Simply walking through the Forest is a feast for all the senses, whatever the season. But the summer months are an ideal time to linger a little longer. Bring a blanket or find a bench and enjoy a lunchtime picnic in beautiful surroundings (please take your litter home with you). You might even like to draw or paint the scene from your favourite spot. Encourage children to draw the flowers and minibeasts they see and create their very own nature journal or spotter’s guide.
As well as the obvious physical benefits, taking time to appreciate the outdoors has been proven to reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and boost our mood. Next time you are in the Forest, or anywhere in nature, take some mindful moments to really soak up all that you can see, hear, and feel. Forest Bathing is a quiet way to connect with and appreciate the natural world. You might even choose to take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot in the Forest. Grounding not only feels good, but it is recognised as valuable for encouraging better mobility and posture.
Take advantage of the early sunrises and visit the Forest for a short walk in the morning. Morning light is important for the circadian rhythms of our natural body-clocks, and just ten or twenty minutes can boost the mood and lead to better sleep. If you cannot make it to the Forest, simply sitting outside in the early morning before your day begins can have similar benefits. Discover more about the benefits of morning light here.
Visit the Forest
However you choose to spend your time in the summer, spending time in the Forest, alone or with others, is a refreshing and re-energising way to appreciate the longer days, and the warmth and the abundance of nature that summer brings. Plan your Forest visit here.