If you want to blow away the cobwebs with some glorious autumn walks and take in the rich reds, oranges and yellows of trees changing colour, there are plenty of stunning gardens to visit.
Whether you’re keen for a family day out or some garden inspiration from trees, shrubs and other flora and fauna that catch your eye, there’s a huge choice of gardens to explore in the UK.
Here are just a few to visit this autumn…
1. Exbury Gardens, New Forest
The sizzling reds and burnt oranges of more than 450 cultivars of acer should provide inspiration for any budding gardener hoping to add a colourful tree to their plot. Exbury Gardens feature rich-hued national collections of Nyssa and Oxydendrum trees, and head to the Sundial Garden for late displays of dahlias and salvias, and the Herbaceous and Centenary Gardens for gorgeous grasses, plants, shrubs and trees.
Visit exbury.co.uk. Open daily until November 14.
2. Felbrigg Hall, Gardens and Estate, Norfolk
As well as taking a stroll through the rolling landscape and woodlands – a feast of autumnal splendour – there’s a plentiful autumn harvest in the impressive walled garden of the historic Felbrigg Hall estate. Come Halloween you’ll see many varieties of pumpkins, gourds and squashes, while in the woods there’s an impressive display of fungi at this time of year. Look out for the Hall decorated for harvest, or if you visit later, there might even be produce left over to take home with you.
Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/felbrigg-hall-gardens-and-estate. Gardens open daily.
3. Hollytree Lodge, Muckhart, Scotland
For a more intimate setting with tons of character, visitors to Scotland can explore this petite but pretty garden, cleverly divided by internal hedges into a series of rooms. Don’t miss the Japanese garden, a mini orchard and mixed herbaceous borders, along with a wide range of unusual trees and shrubs, including Persian ironwood and acers – many of which produce spectacular autumn colours.
Visit by appointment up to around November 12.
4. Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
Capability Brown’s final landscape surrounds this Georgian mansion and the impressive borders offer a rich mix of reds, oranges and chestnut browns; a vista continued in its parkland, woodland and orchard. Fallen leaves, a plethora of conkers and an ‘autumn bingo’ challenge inviting children to take part in a mixture of general knowledge and entertaining observation tasks, should keep them amused. Make sure to see the vintage apple trees laden with fruit in the autumnal orchard too.
Gardens open daily.
5. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Whether you’re after majestic trees in all their autumn glory or just want the kids to have some fun over half term with the Gruffalo’s Child trail, running until October 31, Kew gardens offers a huge variety of autumnal interest. The Gruffalo is joined by Fox, Owl and the Big Bad Mouse (the trail is also happening at Kew’s wild botanic garden, Wakehust, in Sussex), while gardening parents can be inspired by the long borders, glasshouses and impressive landscape.
Kew, which is home to 14,000 trees, also offers visitors a chance to find out more about seasonal produce in its kitchen garden and its harvest of beetroots, carrots and giant pumpkins.
It’ll take you at least a day to explore properly, so give yourself plenty of time.
Visit kew.org/kew-gardens. Open daily, but gardens closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
6. Ardress House, County Armagh
If you want to step back in time to see a bit of traditional rural life, there’s still a last chance to visit 17th century Ardress House, where you can explore the smithy, byre and threshing barn and a traditional farmyard. Fruit growers can admire the abundance of apples in the impressive orchards, while the lawns are covered in delicate-looking lilac crocuses. The house and farm closes for winter on October 17, but you can continue to follow the Lady’s Mile Walk through a peaceful trail of woodland surrounding the house, taking in the views of the farmhouse and orchard.
Lady’s Mile Walk open dawn until dusk.
7. RHS Garden Bridgewater, Salford, Greater Manchester
The newest RHS Garden in Salford, Greater Manchester, Bridgewater is entering its first autumn in a blaze of glory. With more than 70 acres of mature woodland to explore, stars of the seasonal show are ornamental grasses and structural beech ‘beehives’ and columns in the Worsley Welcome Garden and Paradise Garden, both designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. Pleached Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) trees in the Paradise Garden provide some of the earliest signs of the changing season as their leaves turn blazing red, while elsewhere in the garden, there’s a collection of striking maples in the Chinese Water Garden adjacent to Ellesmere Lake. Also look out for the impressive collection of Nerine bowdenii providing an exotic splash of colour in the Weston Walled Garden.
Visit rhs.org.uk/gardens/bridgewater. Open daily, booking required.
8. Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens, North Yorkshire
Award-winning designer Andy Sturgeon has made his mark on the renaissance of these gardens, featuring more than eight acres of formal gardens, with new planting schemes and garden rooms.
Wildlife areas abound and the brilliant walled kitchen garden has more than 90 varieties of fruit trees and shrubs. If you’re lucky, there will still be dahlias, pumpkins and apples to enjoy, plus a wilderness play area where the kids can let off steam.
9. Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
There are so many autumn delights at Calke Abbey, it is difficult to know which to choose from: the fruitful kitchen garden bursting with seasonal produce; a vibrant display of homegrown pumpkins and ornamental gourds in the Flower Garden (which you can buy for a donation at the end of October); the riot of colour from more than 50 varieties of dahlia in the Central Yard; an orchard with local and historic apples. And that’s before you explore the faded glasshouses dating back to the 18th century.
Visit nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey. Open daily.