10/10/2004 Entry: "National Trust gardens for autumn colour"
Colourful gardens to visit this Fall
As summer flowers fade and leaves adopt autumn's fiery shades, many of the National Trust's gardens and landscape parks are at their most beautiful. Among the best for autumn colour are Sheffield Park Garden in East Sussex, Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey, Bodnant Garden in Conwy, Stourhead in Wiltshire and Upton House in Warwickshire.
Bodnant Garden, Colwyn Bay, Conwy
Bodnant Garden is truly a plantsman's garden with tremendous autumn appeal. Beautiful exfoliating trees such as the paperbark maple (Acer griseum) and the Chinese red-barked birch (Betula albosinensis). Colourful bark from the Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula) and several species of Stewartia. Colourful foliage from numerous deciduous trees and shrubs as well as many plants with interesting evergreen foliage, such as fatsia, phormium, holly, and privet. Berry-laden specimens of cotoneaster, viburnum, mountain ash, and Symplocos. 50 metre tall coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).
Sheffield Park, Uckfield, East Sussex
Sheffield Park is one of the premier gardens in Britain to experience the changing colour of leaves in autumn. Rich reds of scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). Oranges from Fothergilla major, Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica), and swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum), while a bitter nut (Carya cordiformis) provides yellow colour and Japanese maples provide purple colour. Creamy-silver plumes of ornamental pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana).
Stourhead, nr. Warminster, Wiltshire
One of the most beautiful gardens in south west England for autumn colour with many species of maple, oak, and various deciduous hardwoods.
Spectacular coniferous specimens of hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), China fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), and coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). A 70+ foot tall dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), which turns a cinnamon brown in autumn. Cascading branches of weeping ash (Fraxinus excelsior 'Pendula'). Winter reveals more of the stunning landscape with many more views across the lake to temples, grotto and obelisk. Pink, winter-flowering rhododendrons. The rare Idesia polycarpa with silvery bark and various willows with colourful bark. Reflection of arcadian temples in the 17-acre lake. Grotto with the River God. Walks throughout the estate.
Upton House, nr. Banbury, Warwickshire
Autumn is a very exciting time at Upton House Garden with the National Collection of Asters (Aster amellus, Aster cordifolius, and Aster ericoides) in bloom and drifts of autumn crocus flowers popping through the soil surface. Japanese maples ablaze with autumn colour and beautiful red berries and foliage of plantings along the Berberis Bank.
Winkworth Arboretum, nr. Godalming, Surrey (A/W)
Started in 1938 by Dr. Wilfrid Fox with only a 5-acre patch of woodland. Now, a steep, naturalistic, world-class arboretum with over 1,300 specimen trees and shrubs, many with excellent autumn colour including oaks, beeches, and the brilliant Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica). Extensive collections of birches, cherries, and maples, with the Nikko maple (Acer nikoense) and the hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium) showing well in autumn. National collection of whitebeam and mountain ash (Sorbus), which bear heavy crops of berries in autumn. Two lakes, quiet walks, and beautiful vistas of the countryside.
For further suggestions of National Trust places to visit, plus events listing, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/thingstodo/events
Photo of Bodnant courtesy of the Wales Tourist Board