The garden is being transformed by the colours of autumn. Late blooming flowers are accompanied now by eye-catching foliage, berries and fruit and our garden’s mountain backdrop provides some breathtaking panoramas. In the upper garden the rose terraces and herbaceous beds are still giving their all, climbing wisteria is still perfuming the air and now vines, too, are scrambling across walls in a spectacular cascade of green and bronze.
On The Range lobelias, heleniums and long serving dahlias provide a firework display of colour, in contrast to The Lily Terrace which is a pastel picture of swaying grasses and perennials. Elsewhere in The Terraces phlox and asters fill out borders now also peppered with Autumn Crocus and cyclamen.
The Shrub Borders are at their full glory; astilbes, crocosmia and Kaffir Lily light up beds beneath glowing acres, rowan, prunus and many other deciduous trees, native and exotic. The best include the pink-leaved Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura Tree), with its heart shaped leaves which smell of burnt sugar, the flame red oak Quercus coccinea, a Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii’ (Purple Leaved Plum), Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum) and Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’.
There are berries and fruit with wow factor too, including Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’, a pale green Styrax japonica (Japanese Snowbell), the aptly named Symplocos paniculata (Sapphire Berry) and a red Viburnum lobophyllum…and the fruit of Decaisnea fargesii (Dead Man’s Fingers) seen right, have to be seen to be believed.
In the Dell you can warm you hands on Acer japonicum ‘Aureum’, the golden hues of Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern) and the muted pinks and mauves of hydrangeas. As herbaceous plants wane the eye is drawn upwards to the towering evergreen firs, cedars, hemlock and redwoods.
Special mention must go to the hydrangeas of every variety which can be found throughout the garden right now; tall ivory H.paniculata grandiflora, delicate mauve lacecap H. aspera villosa, the fat nodding blue and pink mopheads of H.macrophylla, white H. arborescens, the oak leaved H. quercifolia, seen left, and the small but perfectly formed H. involucrata ‘Hortensis’ with flower heads like a bouquet of roses.
In the new Winter Garden there are tantalising glimpses of what’s to come – spot the red and yellow Cornus stems, peeling white Birch bark, heathers and emerging hellibores as you pass by.
As for other things to see and do this autumn…come and have a look at the renovation work on the Waterfall Bridge, the first in its 100 year history. You can bring your dog too! This autumn visitors will be able to bring their four-legged friends for walkies every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from November to March and we’ve got special events on November 1 and 2 to mark the start of our dogs welcome policy – displays by dog agility and rescue groups, dog competitions and a visit by the Dogs Trust who will be doing free microchipping.
Half term events for families include a Mystical Creatures Trail, autumn crafts, conker fights, a night-time Halloween walk and, in the lead up to Christmas, we’ll have an elves toy making workshop. For the grown ups there will be a series of gardening workshops and talks including a Propagation Walk and Champion Tree Walk with the experts. We’ll also be challenging ourselves and visitors to take part in the Great Leaf Rake on December 1 – help us set a record for the most leaves collected in one hour!
And don’t forget to enjoy special warming winter menus at the Pavilion tearoom, or some al fresco refreshment stop in The Dell – hot drinks and soup by a brazier…perfect for that autumn walk.