Autumn in abundance: where to see seasonal colours
Where to see explosive autumnal colours in their prime close to home
This enchanting woodland lies just south of Guildford and is home to an extraordinary range of trees that transform every autumn time with a fiery palette. Liquidambars, hickory, tulip trees and burgundy maple trees are just some of the species that were carefully cultivated by the arboretum’s founder, Dr. Fox, who planned the landscape like an artist with a paintbrush. Make your way through the foliage and follow the track deep into the valley where breaks in the treeline make for wonderful vistas overlooking the pastoral countryside in the clutches of the season. One such view looks out onto Winkworth’s pristine lake where nature’s colours are reflected onto the water and the arboretum’s signature lake house emerges out of the hanging mist.
Morden Hall Park
Morden Hall Park is dissected by the meandering River Wandle and characterised by its quaint footbridges and 18th century snuff mills that hark back to park’s industrial heyday. Now a National Trust-owned green space, visitors can discover a seasonal spectacle of bountiful hues in autumn, with lime trees and dramatic horse chestnuts lining wide avenues and bursting into a profusion of colour. The estate’s rose garden flourishes in the summer, but when the roses turn with the season, the garden’s gingko biloba trees and hornbeams are in their element. The acer cappadocicum found near Phipps Bridge also transforms to a bright yellow, contrasting brilliantly against the dark earthy tone of the tree bark.
Kew Gardens Arboretum
Kew is synonymous with its opulent Victorian greenhouses, but covering two-thirds of the Gardens and home to an astonishing 14,000 trees is Kew’s expansive arboretum. With an ancient variety and more than 2,000 different types, including rare specimens, this section of the grounds explodes with colour during the autumn months. The best spot to absorb the sheer diversity of the woodland is from the elegant bridge crossing which winds over the arboretum lake. Dotted across the water are four islands home to Chinese tupelo trees which cast a pristine mirrored reflection of colour. Kew also hosts a treetop walkway where you can enjoy a different vista altogether from 18 metres above the forest floor.
The historic home of horticulture, Wisley hosts a plant collection spanning 240 magnificent acres and is one of the largest in the world. The grounds have been carefully cultivated to ensure that every inch responds to seasonal change its own glorious way, with autumn an annual highlight. The ground’s Seven Acres is a beautiful corner where the Liquidambar, Taxodium and Aster transform spectacularly with a psychedelic display of oranges, crimsons and golden foliage. Howard’s Field is a romantic clearing home to an autumnal heather collection with dainty dew-spotted carpets of pinks and purple cyclamen crocus flowers. The ground’s Pinetum is a magnificent tree collection made up of evergreen conifers that contrast against deciduous plants, and the Orchard is not to be missed in autumn, with its offering of fruitfulness.