Gardens Illustrated
Visitors at the minack an open air theatre near Porthcurno in Cornwall,
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Gardens to visit in October

Published: October 1, 2020 at 9:10 am

Head gardener Tom Brown recommends gardens and places to see seasonal plants and flowers at their best

October may be the point at which we're heading properly into autumn, but that doesn't mean that gardens don't look beautiful. Below are a selection of places and gardens that are on top form over the month of October. Don't forget to always check before you travel to make sure you can visit. Most places will ask you to book before you arrive. Find out which flowers and best this month with our article on October's blooms. 


The Minack Theatre

Although best known for its spectacular open-air theatre, the Minack Theatre and Garden is home to a wonderful subtropical garden that is a dramatic attraction in itself. Full of exotic plants, many of them mature, the gardens showcase agaves, aeoniums, strelitzia and echiums across the clifftop site. Niall and Jill Milligan have orchestrated this planting scheme, so it displays many plants that most of us can only dream of cultivating in our own gardens. Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6JU. Tel 01736 810181,

Marks Hall

The walled garden at Marks Hall is unusual in that it is walled on only three sides, with one aspect sloping down to a lake. Formal hornbeam hedges divide a modern planting style, laid out in a series of spaces with a common thread and flavour throughout. Simple but wonderfully effective plant combinations give a rhythm and an immersive experience as you wander through perennial-based planting – laid out by the London-based, German designer Brita von Schoenaich. Beyond the three walls is a wonderful arboretum. Well worth a visit. Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum, Coggeshall, Colchester, Essex CO6 1TG. Tel 01376 563796,

Brogdale Farm

For many, October is the month synonymous with apple harvests, and one of the finest establishments for seeing a huge range of fruit is Brogdale Farm. Set in the weald of Kent, it houses an impressive collection of fruit trees. Its October Apple Festival offers the chance to try and buy more than 2,200 apple cultivars from all over the world and from almost every county in Britain – including many heritage cultivars. A visit is guaranteed to spark an interest in growing your own fruit. Brogdale Collections, Brogdale Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8XZ. Tel 01795 536250,

Pan-Global Plants

Founded by plantsman and plant hunter Nick Macer, Pan-Global Plants, offers a selection of unusual plants that have been carefully selected and tried by Nick and his team before they make it into the pages of the nursery’s catalogue – so they’ve done most of the hard work for you. Its range of plants is a reminder that simply because a plant is not easily produced on a large scale, it doesn’t mean it is unsuitable for most beds and borders. Open until the end of October, it now offers mail order but is well worth a trip. Be sure to make plenty of room in your car boot for plants – you’ll need it. The Walled Garden, Frampton Court, Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire GL2 7EX. Tel 01452 741641,


Savill Garden

A great destination to enjoy autumn colour and late planting is the Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park. Created in the 1930s, the garden has continued to evolve with new planting schemes and features. One of its highlights is the many carefully sited woody plants, which at this time of year offer a fabulous autumnal spectacle. Although October is a great time to see the colourful foliage, many herbaceous plants and displays under glass round off a visit. Wick Lane, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey TW20 0UJ. Tel 01753 860222,


As head gardener at West Dean College in West Sussex, Tom Brown has an avid enthusiasm for great, garden-worthy plants. Tom is also an RHS Show Judge and Herbaceous Committee Member.


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