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Ten of the Best Autumnal Gardens

by Veronica Peerless

As I’m sure you don’t need reminding, summer in Britain can be rather hit and miss. Autumn, however, often brings some of our best weather, and as the leaves turn, it’s reliably spectacular too. It’s the ideal time to get out outside while you still can and enjoy the fiery colours and mellow light before the world turns grey. You can’t go wrong with a trip to an arboretum at this time of year, but some gardens are at their best too, thanks to late-flowering exotics, perennials and grasses plus fruits, berries and hips. Here are some of my favourite autumn places.


Showing below are all 8 records in "Ten of the Best Autumnal Gardens"

Picton Castle

The Rhos, Haverfordwest

Picton Castle, The Rhos, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

Fiery hues may be the main attraction elsewhere, but autumn at Picton is all about cool blues, purples and pinks. Asters (Michaelmas daisies) are the mainstay of any border in autumn and you’ll find 400 varieties here, alongside other late-season perennials and shrubs. Many are on sale in the nursery, so you can take home a much-needed shot of colour for your own garden.

Sheffield Park & Garden

Sheffield Park, Uckfield

Sheffield Park & Garden, Sheffield Park, Uckfield, East Sussex

This Capability Brown masterpiece is one of the most photographed autumn gardens in Britain, and it’s easy to see why. The stunning colours of the Japanese maples, oaks, beech, swamp cypresses and birches are mirrored in the park’s five lakes, giving a double hit of colour. On a blue-skied autumn day there’s no place like it.

Stourhead

Nr Mere, Warminster

Stourhead, Nr Mere, Warminster, Wiltshire

When the North American maple turns scarlet at Stourhead, it heralds the fact that autumn is on its way. Japanese acers, chestnuts, cypress and redwoods soon join the autumnal throng, and their sumptuous colours are reflected in the central lake. As the leaves fall, dramatic vistas open up and you can appreciate the incredibly clever design of this magnificent landscape garden.

Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham, Norfolk

The Millennium Garden, designed by one of the world’s best designers, Piet Oudolf, is the main attraction at Pensthorpe. Swathes of tall grasses and late-flowering perennials provide the wow factor well into autumn and then fade and die back gracefully. The garden then takes on a whole new appearance as the forms of the plants and their seedheads come to the fore.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Jermyns Lane, Ampfield, Romsey

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Jermyns Lane, Romsey, Hampshire

The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens pull off that rare feat of looking brilliant all year round. The gardens started life as an arboretum and the gardens have the highest number of ‘champion trees’ in Britain, many of which give fantastic autumn colour. There’s plenty to see around the gardens too, from shrubs such as oak-leafed hydrangeas, rare enkianthus and lipstick-pink nerines.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum, Bedale, North Yorkshire

This Yorkshire arboretum is home to some of the largest and most unusual trees and shrubs in Britain. Many of them take on spectacular hues in autumn, and the three ‘autumn bays’ are especially worth a visit. You can also take part in ‘fungus forays’ – guided tours that will show you which mushrooms are edible and which ones to avoid.

Trentham

Stone Road, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent

Trentham, Stone Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

Trentham just gets better and better. Piet Oudolf’s Rivers of Grass are at their most spectacular at this time of year – and walking right through the tall Molinias is positively encouraged (a hit with adults and kids alike). There’s also woodland originally planted by Capability Brown, and more trees, chosen especially for their autumn colour, have been recently planted.

Scampston Walled Garden

Scampston Hall, Malton

Scampston Walled Garden, Scampston Hall, Malton, North Yorkshire

It might date back to the 18th century, but the walled garden at Scampston is fearlessly modern. Designer Piet Oudolf had a hand in this garden too, and his signature planting style is at its best in the Drifts of Grass garden, home thousands of buff-coloured Molinia. Meanwhile the Katsura Grove has an aroma of burnt sugar as the Cericidiphyllum leaves fall.


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