England’s gardens undergo a mesmerising transformation in the autumn. Trees dress themselves in their most fiery foliage, flowering heathers show off their pink hues and juicy, ripe berries come out to play. Savour the myriad of seasonal colours on your autumn break with a visit to one of these glorious gardens.
To make sure your visit runs as smoothly as possible, please pre-book your tickets in advance and check the garden’s website before travelling for any restrictions and closures that may be in place.
Hergest Croft Gardens
Full to the brim with ancient apple trees and perfectly pruned shrubs, Hergest Croft Gardens welcomes a dazzling display of autumn colour. Red, yellow, purple and gold leaves take over the maple and birch-filled Azalea Garden, Maple Grove and Park Wood, while the Kitchen Garden sprouts seasonal veg. The gardens span over 70 acres with more than 5,000 rare trees and shrubs, perfect for an autumn amble to see the rich, earthy tones of the season.
A designated National Nature Reserve and home to some of the oldest trees in England, Calke Abbey is an ethereal place to watch autumn roll in. Discover apples galore in the orchard (you can even take some home in exchange for a small donation), look out for the eye-catching display of pumpkins, squash and marrows, and definitely don’t miss the delightful dahlias that border the Central Yard. Calke is also home to roaming red and fallow deer, and around October they enter rutting season. This distinctive behaviour sees the bucks lock antlers to compete for the does – they’re known to get a bit vocal!
Kew Gardens’ arboretum comes into its own in the autumn with its vast collection of beautiful trees. Soak up the atmosphere from atop the Treetop Walkway or wander down to the Lake to see the vibrant autumnal shades reflected in the water. If the weather isn’t being too kind, warm up amongst the palms and cacti in the tropical glasshouses, followed by a well-earned cuppa and cake at one of the onsite cafés.
Photograph the lakeside gardens of Harewood House in all their auburn glory. Alongside a plethora of plants from around the world, the real draw of these gardens in autumn is the sight of bountiful crimson trees reflected in ‘Capability’ Brown’s enormous 32-acre lake. Make the most of your visit by soaking up the crisp, fresh air on a mosey around the rest of the gardens and grounds, feeling the crunch of the fallen leaves underfoot.
Discover a horticultural work of art in the southeast. With colourful plants like nyssa, acer and taxodiums dotted throughout, Sheffield Park and Garden was made for autumn. Immerse yourself in this seasonal spectacle by following meandering pathways through glades, along the edges of not one, but five lakes, and over bridges. Keep an eye out for the flat-stalked spindle tree – its leaves turn bright red in autumn and its flowers open to reveal vibrant orange seeds.
One of England’s largest private tree and plant collections, the Batsford Arboretum has a treasure trove of wild gardens, paths and streams. And while spring’s cherry blossom is a sight to see, the autumn leaves are equally as impressive. Admire the deep red hues of the Japanese Maples, an abundance of autumn berries and the show-stopping waterfall which provides a backdrop to the riot of colours. And don’t forget to say hello to the gigantic Buddha – you can’t miss him.
These tranquil gardens are especially beautiful in autumn, where a full palette of colours is unleashed on the landscape. A treat for all the senses, the surroundings of the Arboretum, The Folly and The Glade are complemented by the sweet candyfloss scent of Japanese Katsura trees. Check out the Lavinia Walk too, bordered by Chinese crab apple, which, in the autumn, is clothed in bright red berries. Find a spot to sit and take in the views – it won’t last for long.
Autumn colour floods ever corner of Rosemoor, nestled in a wooded valley in North Devon. The 1930s Stone Garden shows off its fiery Japanese maples, while the Upper Woodland Walk, ablaze with rich scents and auburn tints, makes for a peaceful walk among the trees – its thinning canopy also gives you lovely views over Rosemoor House and the surrounding valley. Don’t miss the Foliage Garden, where straw-gold grasses and shrubs like salvias and fuchsias make their seasonal debut, and be sure to admire the different varieties of plump, ready-to-pick apples on show in the Orchard.
If you go down to the woods today you’ll find over 1,000 different shrubs and trees, many of them rare, waiting for you to wander and explore. Both a local and national treasure, Winkworth perfectly reflects the colours of each season. The autumnal pallet of gold, pink and orange foliage blazes throughout the gardens, and fascinating fungi begin to pop up amongst the trees. Lose yourself in the majesty of the parkland, and then stop for a cup of tea in the Arbor Tea Room.
Blending into the Yorkshire countryside, Harlow Carr is a delight whatever the season. Once an ancient royal hunting ground, the gardens are now home to a variety of landscapes that erupt with colour in the autumn. Take in the glowing berries and scented flowers in the Winter Walk, or amble through the Arboretum with its dazzling waves of crimson and burnt orange foliage. The Vegetable Garden will also grab your attention with its newly harvested carrots, beans and cabbages, while the Main Borders (one of the most original features of this historic garden) adds contrast and texture with its purple moor grass and sculptural seed heads that catch the autumn sun.
Wrap up warm and explore the walks and trails in the 200-acre grounds of County Durham’s magnificent Raby Castle. Glimpse red and fallow deer during their annual rut, where the male antlers shed their velvety layer to help them compete for a mate. Feel the crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet as you explore the lake, and wander through the old yew hedges and golden trees. Or head inside the 18th-century Walled Garden, where you can admire original plantings (like the White Ischia Fig) and ornamental features.