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Out and about in autumn


by James Alexander-Sinclair

If you can spare a moment from harvesting pumpkins, admiring dahlias and cutting things back then this is a good time to think of your last garden visits of the season.


Autumn leavesAutumn is very with us and the days are getting much shorter. I notice it particularly as we walk the dogs early each morning and at the moment we have to start in the dark - a little depressing except that about half way round the sky splits with lines of pink and orange as the sun tips over the horizon.

I mention this because with the autumn comes the last chance to get out and visit gardens. All the big stately home gardens are beginning to close down for the winter but not before a last fanfare of autumn colour. If you can spare a moment from harvesting pumpkins, admiring dahlias and cutting things back then this is a good time to think of your last garden visits of the season. Get out there and see some leaves.

The great places for autumn visits are the various arboreta and forests scattered around the countryside. The autumn leaves will never be quite as staggering as they are in some places but we can get pretty close.

The National Arboretum, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire: if you're within a day's drive of here then please, please go. The acers are particularly fantastic.

Sheffield Park, East Sussex: fabulous gardens laid out by Capability Brown. Staggering trees with guided walks.

Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire: home to Strid Wood, the largest remnant of acidic woodland in Yorkshire. Acidic soil makes for much brighter autumn colours.

Lytes Cary, Somerset: one of the smaller, more intimate National Trust properties. There are lots of autumn activities including wildlife trails around the gardens and estate. For extra information one of the gardeners there has an excellent blog.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond: Try the Treetop Walkway to get a different viewpoint on changing foliage. There is a particularly wonderful specimen of Euonymus alatus there that I used to visit every autumn when we lived in London.

The National Forest: a scattering of woodlands spread through Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Lots of walks and a chance to see some truly ancient woodlands: trees that have lived through many credit crunches, wars and pestilence without being that bothered. Good for the soul.

If all this seems a bit too energetic then you can always visit VP's Open Garden. Michelle is a prolific garden blogger who lives in Chippenham. She has opened her garden - virtually via the internet - in aid of Water Aid. Well worth a visit and in aid of a very good cause.



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Talkback: Out and about in autumn
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Gardeners' World Web User 22/10/2008 at 11:04

VIEWERS MAY WISH TO KNOW THAT THE HOMEOPATHIC REMEDY HELIX TOSTA 6X PUT INTO WATER AND SPRAYED ONTO PLANTS WILL AID IN SLUGS NOT TOUCHING THAT PLANT FOR ABOUT 4 YEARS MIND BE WORTH TRYING OUT SINCE IT IS A CHEAP REMEDY TO BUY AND WILL NOT AFFECT OTHER PLANTS CAN BE OBTAINED FROM A HOMEOPATHIC SUPPLIER LIKE HELIOS OR AINSWORTHS.

Gardeners' World Web User 24/10/2008 at 12:14

That slug repellent sounds like a dream come true to a Hosta collector, if it really works, but what strength of dilution?

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

Luckily we live just 10 miles from Westonbirt. A few of our friends were there at the weekend and I can report the trees are just coming into their best there. Go there this weekend if you can.