With the imminent autumn decline of our own gardens, it’s good to find other sites worth both the time and petrol to visit for their autumnal colouring. Those of us without our own gardens in particular may wish to take in the hues and sounds of September and October, but may be reduced only to the local parks, which may lack the peace and quiet of your idea of a woodland walk. So, with this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of five gardens for you to visit during the autumn, the majority of which will be situated within the UK, however, due to the logistical constraints inherent in commuting from London to Northumberland for the sake of a simple daytrip, there’s also an entrant from our near neighbour, France.
Sporting one of the largest meadow gardens in the British Isles and alongside one of the most successful contained ecosystems (thanks in large part to the meadow gardens), Pensthorpe should definitely be in your sights for a visit this autumn. It is suited to all members of the family, with natural wilderness walks for children to partake in and a huge wildlife garden that is open year round with varying fauna, depending on when you visit. You can find Pensthorpe in Fakenham, central Norfolk.
Westonbirt is particularly famous for the beauty of its grounds in autumn, and their website talks with pride about some 2000 Maples on their ground, 300 of which are Japanese in origin, which are particularly favoured among the maple family for their autumn colouration. Other autumnal favourites at Westonbirt include the Persian Ironwood and the Chinese Spindle that are some of the earliest ‘turners’ in Northern Europe. This shortlist also includes the Katsura, which is world famous for the rich scents it produces around this time of year.
Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
The landscape of this site is by far the most diverse on our list. Sporting waterfalls, vast expanses of meadow grass, lakes and hills, it is as much a place of adventure as it is of relaxation. The gardens have free guided tours as late as November which will include an unbridled view of the gardens, some 265 acres of stunning scenery and tourist venues, such as the Coach House tea room.
Exbury Gardens, The New Forest
This addition is one more that is family-centric and specifically for the younger members as, aside from its natural majesty, Exbury Gardens offers a wide array of different activities for visitors of all ages. The expansive, 200-acre site is world-renowned for its (unparalleled on our shores) gigantic collection of Rhododendrons, Camellias and rare species of trees and shrubs. Look beyond this and you’ll notice The Steam Railway that connects all the gardens major landmarks and promises both efficiency and industry to your trip.
Jardin du Mont des Recollets, Cassell, Northern France
One of the single most beautifully named gardens I’ve ever come across, the ‘Garden upon the Mount of Recollection’ is aptly named, as its design evokes the gardens of idyllic country youth. Littered here and there with varying examples of master topiary and formal structure, without even delving into the beautiful estate buildings that enround it, it is one of the only year-round visitors gardens in the region, and only a short ferry away for those interested, which I hope will be you.
By Josh Ellison