Historic Gardens
Kenwood surrounded by autumnal trees

ENGLISH HERITAGE GARDENS IN AUTUMN

As the weather cools, our gardens transition into a vibrant autumnal colour palate of yellow, orange and brown. Keep cosy and enjoy wandering through our historic gardens where you'll discover the stories behind our leafy woodlands, decorative flower beds and seasonal kitchen produce.

Here's our pick of the most impressive gardens of the season. 

Audley in autumn

1. Audley End

Pull on your jacket and pack your umbrella (just in case) and witness the seasonal changes at one of our most beautiful gardens. At Audley End House, see ripening apples in the Kitchen Gardens, stately cedars in the parkland and catch the last of the display of flowers across the estate. 

Explore the pond garden and parterre which will be alive with colour through the autumn until the first frost beckons the start of the bedding turnover. Near the parterre, look out for the Kentucky coffee trees, the Howard oak (Quercus x audleyensis, one of only two in the world) and the avenue of limes. 

The Kitchen Garden is another star attraction for visits to this Victorian estate. See a wide range of fruit and vegetables, including 120 apple trees and about 50 pear and plum varieties. All are cared for in keeping with those grown and used in the house in the 1880s.

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Autumn colours at Belsay

2. Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens

Belsay is looking like an autumnal postcard with a spectacular spread of evergreen trees and shrubs popping out against copper-coloured leaves. 

As you walk through the leafy estate, keep your eyes open for the beautiful seasonal changes including the Acer trees, the vines and the Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree) on the Magnolia Terrace. Enjoy shades of buttery yellows and warm reds which create a gentle rainbow of nature's finest shades throughout this historic wonderland.

At the lower end of the East Quarry see a new addition to the meadow with 400 Colchicum bulbs (autumn crocus) which we're expecting to flower soon. The majestic Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), which is always a strong talking point because of its magnificent colours and scent of burnt sugar, is also a seasonal treat.

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Brodsworth House among the autumn gardens

3. Brodsworth Hall

As autumn comes into full swing, see the colour of the surrounding woodlands awash with shades of yellow and red in stark contrast to the varying shades of green of the formal clipped evergreens around the garden. 

Our gardens team have also been busy working on the restoration of the Game Larder. See the recreation based on archival photographs and maps and ask our gardening team for more information as you see them. 

You can also spot more than 100 varieties of hollies (Ilex) in fruit, which the local birds love. Look out for the Acer trees and Euonymus alutus which are a real drawcard in the autumn thanks to their stunning colour transformation from green to vibrant red.

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Down House covered in autumn vines

4. Home of Charles Darwin (Down House)

During the autumn look out for the stunning scarlet red Virginia creeper that engulfs Down House, contrasting with the purple tones of the Boston ivy. The view from the sandwalk (with its veteran beech trees planted by Darwin) across the valley to 'The Big Woods' is also unmissable at this time of year. 

Depending on the weather, the fungi field can provide another flush including pink waxcaps - the rarest waxcap of them all. 

Follow in Darwin's footsteps (literally) along his so-called 'thinking path'. Perhaps you'll stumble on your own ingenious idea as Charles Darwin did here in the 19th century.

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Autumn trees surrounding Walmer Castle

5. WALMER CASTLE AND GARDENS

From a Tudor fortress to an award-winning modern-day delight, Walmer Castle offers eight acres of garden and woodland which come to life in the autumn.

We've already seen some early colouring in the Virginia creeper on the castle and flowering of the cyclamen in the meadow and the woodland. The dry spell in East Kent has advanced the autumn leaf fall and some of our flowering bulbs are already appearing.

By the end of October we'll be removing the summer bedding and planting about 4000 tulips in preparation for the spring. Get in quick to see this garden in all its glory.

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Copper-coloured leaves in front of Kenwood

6. Kenwood

Enjoy this beautiful landscaped parkland, close to the centre of London, and admire some 6000 trees. Take a walk and enjoy this annual highlight, which provides a rich, visual spectacle each autumn. 

Our gardeners will be planting rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs in the flower garden so you can see the progress over the coming months. 

In the kitchen garden, look out for the red leaves of the Vitis coignetiae scrambling along the shed roof and into the Plane Tree. Here you can also admire the firey Acer palmatum trees.  

As you walk around the Pasture Ground, look out for the sweet gum with its vibrant tinges of purples, yellows and oranges in its leaves. Another charming feature is the Virginia creepers that elegantly climb along the front of Mansions Cottage.

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Swiss Cottage at Osborne in the autumn

7. Osborne

Although Queen Victoria used Osborne as a beach retreat for the royal family, these days you can enjoy the vast estate year-round. 

Many of the best trees for autumn colour can be found to the north of the walled garden. Near Swiss Cottage (right), the small house the royal children played in, see the leaves of the Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), turning orangey-red and the Tulip Tree, (Liriodendron tulipifera), turn a buttery yellow. It's enough to get out your paint brush and canvas and paint the picture-perfect views like Victoria did when she stayed.

With the cooler, damper weather, the lawns are already sprouting a range of different fungi, creating an enchanting spotters-guide for visitors. Most of these grassland fungi are small so you need to keep your eyes open to see them - but you'll need to be quick as they tend to disappear with the first frosts.

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Autumn leaves frame Witley Court

8. Witley Court

The dramatic ruin of Witley Court is no better complemented than by the colours of autumn in the expansive gardens. It was here that the Victorians would come to celebrate at one of the famous parties the site became known for. 

A favourite view is the early morning vista over the grounds, with looming mist casting a dewy blanket across the lake. This is supported by hues of yellow, orange and bronze in the leaves and berries of Liquidambar, Sorbus, Euonymus and Viburnum

By October and November the Woodland walks will throw shades of burnt oranges providing a quintessential autumnal experience. Why not bring your dog along for an autumn stroll and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful surrounds

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