The best autumn gardens to visit

Which of these well-loved autumn gardens is your favourite to visit when the leaves start to turn?

Predictions are for a warm autumn – and although we cannot always rely on these somewhat hopeful forecasts, something we can rely on at this time of year are the bursts of gorgeous colour which autumn trees and shrubs provide. The weather does in fact have an effect on how impressive the displays are.

Different years bring different dramatic displays in our trees and shrubs; no two years are the same. This is because the intensity and colour differs depending on the weather but we are always guaranteed a great display at arboretums across the country.

Vibrant trees and shrubs worth looking out for include: Berberis thunbergii, or Dart’s Red Lady, Euonymus europaeus, or Red Cascade, and Berberis x carminea or Pirate King.

Although there are countless gorgeous gardens to see across the country, here at Country Life we have compiled a list of what we believe are the best arboretums to visit through September and October.

Bodenham Arboretum

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Incredible colour, with views sweeping over lake marks Bodenham out as one of the outstanding autumn gardens in England. With Persian Ironwood, Witch Hazels and Viburnum, the colour lasts from September right through to early November, making it worth several visits if one can, to appreciate how the scenery changes over the weeks.

Details: Bodenham Arboretum & Earth Centre, Wolverley, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY11 5TB. Open all year round from 11am – 5pm (some Thursdays may differ.) Admission: Adults: from £4.50, children and concession: from £2.50.

* Further information on Bodenham Arboretum, or call 01562 852444


The Pantheon seen from across the lake in the winter at Stourhead, Wiltshire.

An outstanding example of the English landscape style, this garden was designed by Henry Hoare II and laid out in the mid 16th century. A beautiful lake is surrounded by banks of thick woodland which change colour with the seasons in dramatic style. The views at this time of year are breathtaking, particularly on a sunny day.

Details: Stourton, Warminster, BA12. Open all year round from 9am – 7pm. Admission (including the house): adult £13.20, child £6.60.

* Further information on Stourhead or call 01747 841 152.

Down House

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Down House, home of Charles Darwin, is now owned by English Heritage who carried out a five year restoration of the gardens in 2006. Their incredible form continues today and one can see why they so inspired Darwin. The view from the Sand Walk across the valley to ‘The Big Woods’, largely unchanged since his time, is unmissable at this time of year.

Details: Luxted Road, Downe, Kent, BR6 7JT. Closed from 3rd November 2014 – 15th February 2014. Currently open daily 10am – 6pm. Admission: adults £10.30, child £6.20, concessions £9.30.

* Further information on Down House; or call 0870 333 1181.

Winkworth Arboretum

A winter's day at Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey.

A hillside woodland which contains over 1,300 different shrubs and trees, many of them rare. Autumn is a riot of colour, with reds, purples, oranges and yellows all exploding around the park. There are also two beautiful lakes and plenty of wildlife to spot amongst the foliage.

Details: Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AD. Currently open daily 10am – 6pm. Admission: adults £6.50, child £3.25. £1 tea-room voucher for those arriving by public transport

* Further information on Winkworth Arboretum; tel 01483 208477.

Borde Hill

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Borde Hill is a quintessentially English garden which really comes into its own during the autumn. It’s Nerine Lily collection as well as some other unusual South African plants including aloes, proteas, and impatiens in the restored victorian greenhouses come to life every year producing a blaze of colour. Even on the greyest of days one cannot fail to be lifted by the superb blend of colours achieved by the careful planning and creative thinking which have gone into this garden.

Details: Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 1XP. Open until 2nd November 2014, daily 10am – 6pm or dusk if earlier. Admission: adults £8, child £5, concession £7.50.

* Further information on Borde Hill; tel 01444 450326.

Batsford Arboretum

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Heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese garden culture, Batsford arboretum is unlike any other in this country. Featuring a Japanese tea house, a gigantic buddha and a waterfall, there are lovely surprises round every corner. In the autumn the leaves look like liquid amber, glowing in the dimming light.

Further information on Batsford Arboretum or call 01386 701043.; Details: Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9QB. If you are using a SatNav use postcode GL56 9AB. Open daily 10am – 5pm. Admission: adults £7, child £3, concessions £6. Dogs also welcome. The Arboretum is the only part you have to pay for. The Cafe, Plant Centre and Garden Shop are free entry.

Opening hours and prices, for all gardens, may change depending on the weather and changing seasons. Please enquire ahead of your visit.