Seasons of mist… autumn is on its way

It was just over 200 years ago, in 1820, that John Keats published possibly his most famous poem of all, Ode to Autumn.

With the opening line ‘Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness’, and then referencing everything from apples, to bees, to swallows, to hazels, it’s a beautiful poem, all about this bountiful season. Poignantly, it was one of Keats’ last poems, as he died in 1821 but what a great gift to the nation this poem is.


For us at Happydesigner it captures everything we love about autumn, a season which inspires so many illustrations for us.

Trees are especially beautiful at this time of year, and those of you who know us, know we love, love, love trees! We support the National Trust and support worldwide climate projects and dedicated reforestation projects in the UK with Ecologi. We plant a tree for every book project we complete – it’s our way of helping sustain the tree population in the UK, and around the globe. This is something very close to our hearts.

Our fab designer, Sarah-Leigh, has based her latest book on a tree character called Sally Sapling, who witnesses the changing decades are she grows up to be a very mature copper beech. You can read more about Sally Sapling here.

But we were talking about autumn…

Here are some autumn fun facts to brighten your day:

  1. When does autumn begin?
    Well, that depends on which of two dates you prefer. Autumn, as defined by the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, begins on the equinox which falls on 22 or 23 September. But if you look at it from the aspect of compiling climate data, it begins on 1 September and lasts for three months until 30 November, after which winter officially starts.
  2. More about trees
    Unless they are evergreens, trees lose their leaves in winter and it is in autumn that the foliage turns to the spectacular golds, reds, ambers and browns that we love. But why do they do this? During winter there is not enough light for photosynthesis to occur, so the trees are beginning to close down food production and reduce the amount of chlorophyll in their leaves. It is chlorophyll that makes the leaves green, so as it reduces we see the other hues coming through. Which is perfect for us, as children’s book illustrators and lovers of colour.
  3. Did you know, if you are born in autumn you’ll might live longer?
    Strange but true. According to a study by the Journal of Aging Research, babies born during the autumn months are more likely to live to 100 than those born during the rest of the year. Its study found 30 % of US centenarians born during 1880-1895 (therefore living to 1980-95) were born in the autumn months. Bit of an old study (pardon the pun) but it tickled us.
  4. There’s a special date in 2303
    Usually, the autumn equinox falls on either 22 or 23 September, but in 2303 it will fall on 24 September instead. Why? Because the Gregorian calendar is not quite in perfect symmetry with the Earth’s orbit so every few hundred years an adjustment has to be made. This last happened in 1931 and will next happen in 2303. Not sure any of us will be around to see this, even the longer-living autumn babies!
  5. Autumn or fall?
    We tend to say ‘autumn’ in the UK but across the pond the word ‘fall’ is more common. But did you know, the word ‘fall’ used to be in widespread use in England in the 17 th century? Its origins come from the phrase ‘fall of the leaf’. The word autumn entered English from the French ‘automne’ and didn’t become common usage until the 18th century.
childrens book illustrator

And now for some music

We usually talk about books, but you’ll know that Sarah-Leigh is one half of an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark tribute band, so music is a great source in inspiration.

Here are some popular tunes, themed around autumn. Which ones do you remember?

1 // Autumn in New York by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

2 // Wake Me Up When September Ends, by Green Day

3 // Autumn Almanac, by The Kinks

4 // Harvest Moon, by Neil Young

5 // Leaves That Are Green, by Simon & Garfunkel

6 // November Rain by Guns, N’ Roses

7 // Forever Autumn, by Justin Hayward

8 // September, by Earth, Wind and Fire

9 // September Song, by Frank Sinatra

10 // Autumn Leaves by, Nat King Cole

Quite an eclectic mix, we think. Who’d have thought Frank Sinatra would appear in the same list as Guns N’ Roses? That made us smile.


And finally, a bit about books

The days are getting a little shorter, the lawn needs less mowing, the garden should be less time-consuming… if you’ve been planning to write a children’s book, then autumn is a great time to make a start.

And when you’ve finished, we would LOVE to help with the illustrations. Why not get in touch to find out what we do and how we can work with you.

Right, we’re off to kick around in the autumn leaves… we might even stream ‘Ol Blue Eyes’ while we walk.

Written by Jo Smyth (

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • "Thank you both so much for your hard work and dedication. Sarah is a fantastic illustrator! It is nice to know I have worked with someone who is so professional at her job, and will certainly remember her for the future if I need another book illustrating."
  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • "I am absolutely thrilled with the colours and love the look and overall feel of the book, its so different and unique, thank you so much"
  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active