Although it’s clear that winter is coming, fiery autumn displays seem like a celebratory last hurrah of colour before the dark truly settles in. Take the opportunity to get outside and see the amazing cornucopia of colourful foliage for yourself – here a list of the best gardens in the UK to visit in autumn.
Sheffield Park Garden
A ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton landscape, admirably planted in 1905 by Arthur Soames with a fine collection of trees. Head for the lake and walk the circuit to view the blazing colours reflected in the water. Don’t miss the spectacular Nyssa sylvatica plantings.
Near Haywards Heath,
East Sussex TN22 3QX
Private tree collection established by three generations of enthusiasts, which includes a maple glade and fine selection of mountain ash (Sorbus), offering both leaf colour and bright fruits. Find time to take a walk up to Hergest Ridge for some magnificent view down on to the tree-filled garden.
Herefordshire HR5 3EG
Planted in 1919 by Lionel de Rothschild, Exbury Gardens offer the best of the old – with some exciting new developments, which keep the gardens’ appeal growing. The Viburnumand Cotoneaster are particularly fine. Wander through glades down to the Beaulieu River for some fine waterside views.
Exbury, near Southampton,
Hampshire SO45 1AZ
After all those big gardens with sweeping drives, Knoll Gardens is refreshingly intimate. Known for its grasses, which will be looking their best in autumn, nurseryman Neil Lucas is also establishing a fine collection of woody plants, in particular Euonymus. A great garden to visit to find ideas for your own.
Dorset BH21 7ND
The Savill Garden
Pools, lakes and streams punctuate this impressive woodland garden along with its late-flowering herbaceous borders, shrubs such as Enkianthus and colourful climbers and vines. The Mahonia and Hydrangea collections are well worth seeking out, too.
Surrey TW20 0UU
Planted as recently as the 1960s, Ray Wood, in the grounds of this historic house, is a fine example of a woodland garden. Created by Jim Russell to allow for artistic rides and glades, it includes Pieris, wild roses, rare magnolias, hydrangeas, viburnums, maples and rowans, all providing a feast of autumn interest.
York YO60 7DA
Beautiful wooded hillside, known for its white beam and mountain ash (Sorbus) – Winkworth is also notable for the mass effect of its varied trees, including Parrotia, katsuras, oaks and wonderful Prunus sargentii.
Surrey GU8 4AD
The National Arboretum, Westonbirt
This is Britain’s oldest arboretum, started in 1829 by collector Robert Holford, and now administered by the Forestry Commission as a national gem for all. There’s a huge amount to see here and the wide, long drives allow for good viewing of the trees. There are three maple glades, which are always a draw in autumn, while its also worth noting the hickories (Carrya species) with their large, rich, golden yellow leaves.
Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum
You’ll find some 42,000 plants here – quite amazing to think that in 1953 it was just bare fields. As well as oaks, liquidambars, taxodiums and metasequoias, there is a fine winter garden, which starts to come into its own in autumn with ornamental grasses and bergenias.
Hampshire SO51 0QA
RHS Garden Wisley
There’s so much here to enjoy in autumn, from the blast of colour from trees and shrubs, such as Berberis sieboldii, to the late-summer planting of the borders designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf. Don’t forget to wander up Battleston Hill to see the Hydrangea paniculata plantings, and the trial grounds will still hold interest, too.
Woking GU23 6QB.