Autumn in the garden: shapely seedheads rimed with frost; ripe golden grasses waving in the wind; flowering heathers in mauves and pinks – and above all, everywhere you look, there are spectacular trees clothed in leaves of russet, gold and purple, plus shrubs loaded with ripe red and purple berries.
Here is our pick of eight glorious gardens offering superb seasonal colour
1. Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland
Voted one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Stewart reflects a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry bearing the hallmark of its creator – Edith, Lady Londonderry. There are walks for everyone from a short stroll around the gardens to longer walks around the lake and woodlands, including a red squirrel trail. The lake is particularly beautiful in autumn with gorgeous red and gold foliage.
2. Anglesey Abbey Gardens, Cambridgeshire
This seasonal garden has something spectacular all year round. Dahlias provide a dramatic burst of late summer colour right up until the first frosts. Carpets of cyclamen and rich autumnal colours breakout throughout the gardens. Walk across the lawns and feel the crunching fallen leaves beneath your feet, and take in the colours of the beautiful autumn coloured trees above you.
3. Sheffield Park, Sussex
Four lakes form the heart of this 18th century garden and 265-acre park garden, with paths through glades and wooded areas. It is a must see for seasonal colour from the rare trees and shrubs: there are 25 species of acers alone, with leaf colours ranging from lime green to bright red, plus Gingko biloba (Maidenhair tree) which goes a brilliant amber, and the tupelo tree, deliberately planted for its spectacular autumn display. The trees’ dramatic reflections in the lakes add to the splendour.
4. Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic garden’s foliage bursts into vivid hues of golds, reds and oranges in autumn, while autumn flowering bulbs enjoy the cooler weather and provide a superb display of shades of pink. A walk through the arboretum is a must as rowans and whitebeams combine brightly coloured fruits with attractive leaves. Deciduous conifers also add to the colour –best known are the larches, which become a mellow gold before the needles drop.
5. Killerton House, Exeter, Devon
Killerton is a working agricultural estate guided by the seasons, with its foliage following too. Here is a beautiful place to see the autumn colours come into light. Orchards are a feature of the estate, and in autumn the public are invited to help pick the many varieties of apple. These are pressed using a traditional cider press and each year there is an apple and cider festival. Everyone can enjoy Killerton’s parkland views by hiring in advance a tramper (an electric all-terrain mobility scooter for cover rough ground ).
6. Carae Garden, Argyll, Scotland
This spectacular 50-acre woodland garden consists of a collection of woody plants centred on the Crarae Burn, which tumbles through a rocky gorge. It hosts a wide variety of shrubs and trees, with autumn colourings, which grow in the shelter of towering conifers. The garden hosts an amazingly varied collection of trees, some champions of their species, and a National Collection of southern beech. The lush, naturalistic planting and rushing water gives the feel of a Himalayan valley.
7. Bodnant Garden, Wales
Bodnant is a firework display of crimson, amber and gold in autumn, as the glowing leaves of trees and shrubs, ripening fruit and berries and late flowering plants put on a show to rival the brightest colours of summer. The garden is home to trees from around the world including many UK Champion Trees – the biggest and best of their kind in Britain. Rare exotic shrubs collected by plant hunters a century ago have a variety of unusual fruits and flowerheads – such as the blue seed pods of Decaisnea fargesii (Dead Man’s Fingers)
8. Cotehele, Cornwall
Cotehele garden is based around a Tudor house with superb collections, and there is also a historic riverside quay, historic orchard and estate to explore. Every season promises a colourful view to the river Tamar and beyond. In autumn, the Upper Garden shows off ash and dogwoods in their finest seasonal hues while the Valley garden has colourful acers and purple beech. Each year Cotehele gardeners build a 100-foot Christmas garland from thousands of flowers grown on the estate – you can see it being constructed during November.
Main image: Sheffield Park, Sussex/Credit: Getty