An Autumn guide for an English Country Garden

As the heat of summer slowly winds down into the cooler climes of autumn, gardens are peaceful sanctuaries to absorb the natural beauty of England, and the UK is blessed with an astonishing abundance and variety of gardens to explore. “How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence” so wrote 19th-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, the proud owner of a beautiful garden at Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire.

Pack a picnic and explore the delights of thousands of gardens and parks open to visitors up and down the country. Savour sweetly scented roses, topiary avenues and ornamental lakes, as well as rambling romantic wildernesses and the rolling parks of Capability Brown, there is a wealth of wonder to take in.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Restored around 20 years ago following decades of neglect after 16 of the 22 gardeners were killed during World War I. Memorable treats in store include the tropical jungle and what is claimed to be Britain’s only working pineapple pit, an area ingeniously created for growing this exotic fruit in a colder climate.

heligan

Pettifers

Reflecting the nation’s passion for gardening is Pettifers, near Banbury, the vision of owner Gina Price. Created over three decades, it is a striking mingling of formal and naturalistic planting, with sweeping lawns and parterres giving romantic views over the north Oxfordshire countryside.

Kew Gardens

Dying to escape the concrete of London? Jump on a river boat and cruise up the Thames to Kew Gardens, home to the world’s largest collection of living plants. Explore the 300 acres of glasshouses (home to the world’s oldest living pot plant, brought to Kew in 1775), incredible flora and the treetop walkway. Gaze at the 10-storey, 18th-century pagoda before afternoon tea at the Orangery. The Kew Literature Festival is another great reason to visit.

Autumn Colour at Kew Gardens © RBG Kew

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden

This former garden and studio of renowned 20th-century sculptor Barbara Hepworth overlooks the Cornish coastal town and artists’ colony of St Ives. Stroll through sun-dappled paths and discover intriguing sculptures in bronze, stone and wood, make sure to wander down to the Tate St Ives and discover delights from other leading artists, such as Ben Nicholson.

The Royal Gardens at Highgrove

A relaxed royal welcome awaits you at Highgrove, the personal garden of the Prince of Wales and one of the world’s most famous organic gardens. Wander around the formal gardens, marvel at the 170 wild orchids of the coronation meadow and be enchanted by the apple-scented roses and the thyme walk.

highgrovegardens

Nymans

An award-winning garden in West Sussex, called the sunniest county in Britain. Nymans is the creation of three generations of the Messel family, and is a riot of colours. Be surprised at every corner – temples and gothic ruins are playfully strewn amongst borders and stately trees, and children will be thrilled by the butterfly walks.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales

Wonder at the 8,000 plant varieties on display, enjoy art in the Ghost Forest and poodle around the Great Glass House, designed by Lord Foster, which houses the best collection of Mediterranean climate zone plants in the Northern hemisphere.

garden of wales

Bodnant Garden

A hidden treasure of Wales: splendid lawns, hidden corners and impressive terraces at this 80-acre garden close to Snowdonia. Other treasures at Bodnant include a glorious 180 foot yellow laburnum arch and stunning gorge garden with magnificent trees and waterfall. The garden is open 362 days of the year and is a never-fading feast of colour and interest.

Trentham Estate

Feed the resident monkeys at the award-winning Trentham Estate, an hour from Manchester. Get lost in the woodland trail before a picnic on the banks of a lake designed by Capability Brown. Seek out the elegant Italian Gardens and Floral Labyrinth, or the adventure playgrounds for family fun.

Perseus Trentham Gardens

Brodsworth Hall & Gardens

Walk in the footsteps of the fascinating Thellusson family and enjoy grand gardens in miniature in the beautiful grounds of Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster. Sit down to delicious local Yorkshire produce served in the tea rooms or bring your own picnic.

Where is your favourite place to visit in Autumn? Let us know in the comments below.

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel. Ampersand Travel create bespoke and luxurious travel experiences to Asia, the British Isles and Southern Africa.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Juan Ovalle says:

    The Royal Gardens are high on my list! Would love to see all the wild orchids!

  2. Some great choices here:
    Love Helligan at any time of year – Caerhays Castle garden is stunning when the azealea and rhodedendons are out.
    got engaged at Bodnant – happy memories :-)
    love Bec

  3. Rachel h says:

    I just adore the English countryside especially in the autumn months. Still crisp and not too cold to enjoy a picnic amongst the beautiful golden leaves. I have never been to Trentham Estate but it sounds like a fantastic day for all the family. I have been to the others many a time and I just adore the botanic gardens of wales. A firm local favourite for me is also chatsworth house and garden. Have you ever visited?

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