Dazzling displays of autumn colour

Little girl enjoying the autumn colour at Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming, Surrey. SUS-140409-112530001
Little girl enjoying the autumn colour at Winkworth Arboretum, Godalming, Surrey. SUS-140409-112530001

The summer heat wave and warm September weather is likely to create incredible autumn colour this year, according to Mike Buffin, the National Trust’s gardens and parks adviser, and author.

“We are set to see some dazzling displays of autumn colour. Following on from a very mild winter and a good spring, our landscape trees are looking in tip top condition and even after the battering many trees took during the winter storms, our trees seem to be in really good health,” says Mike.

Mike explains: “The summer heat wave really helped to enhance the growth of many trees and as long as the trees aren’t exposed too much to drying winds, they should be in good condition.

“This warm weather has placed our garden trees under some drought and heat stress and this should manifest itself in some really rich autumn colour.”

Red, gold and orange shades will cover the landscape at this time of year, so whether you’re admiring the variety of trees and plants, building up an appetite for some seasonal tasty treats or enjoying a walk through the crisp leaves with the family, there are plenty of reasons to explore National Trust sites this autumn.

Nymans, Petworth House and Park, and Uppark House and Garden top the poll as the must-visit spots for those wanting to revel in West Sussex’s autumn jewels:


Set in the High Weald with beautiful views, Nymans is a romantic garden with a wooded valley full of rich autumn colour. Look out for the red foliage of the American nyssa and liquid amber trees, which contrast with the bright golds of the shagbark hicory. The exotic handkerchief-like flowers of the dove tree have a softer butter-yellow shade.

At Nymans you’ll find Mike’s all-time favourite tree, the Japanese stewartia, Stewartia pseudocamellia: “I love this variety not just because it’s a fabulous all-year-round small garden tree, with its camouflaged coloured bark, but because of its rich yellow and copper coloured autumn foliage. My favourite specimen is in the Wild Garden at Nymans.”

You can capture the glorious autumn colour yourself, on one of Nymans’ garden photography courses (17, 22 & 31 October, £15, book on 01444 405250), or an art workshop (23, 24 & 25 October, £60, book on 01444 405250).

Petworth House and Park

Petworth House and Park has so many veteran trees that it has its own downloadable Ancient Trees walk, dotted with sumptuous autumn colour from magnificent oaks, limes, beeches and chestnuts.

“The early autumn landscape at Petworth can be quite breathtaking,” says senior gardener Martin Sadler. “The native oaks and limes have wonderful shapes as well as colours, and they’re interspersed with ‘exotics’ such as yellow swamp cyprus, flaming yellow and orange acers and vibrant red oaks; it’s an incredible sight.”

Experience the best that Petworth Park has to offer on a series of guided autumn walks, taking in some of the views that inspired our most famous landscape artist JMW Turner (4, 12, 17, 23 October, 11am – 12.45pm, £5, book on 01798 342207).

Uppark House and Garden

When visiting Uppark House and Garden, head straight for the south side of the house where you’ll be met with a panoramic view over thousands of tree tops on the South Downs.

This is a wonderfully tranquil place, and a great spot to enjoy a cup of tea from the nearby restaurant. Uppark’s pretty woodland is transformed into a canopy of yellow and orange foliage from native trees such as beech, ash and hazel. You’ll spot plenty of quirky fungi too.

Slindon Estate and Woolbeding Countryside

Our West Sussex properties are surrounded by picturesque countryside. Take in far reaching views and the famous golden beech woodland on the Slindon Estate, where hedgerows are bursting with pink spindle, red hawthorn and blackberries.

Step out on a 12 mile guided walk from Black Down to Woolbeding Common, covering purple heaths and ancient woodland full of fungi, wildlife and rich autumn foliage. 18 October, 10.30am-4pm, £3, book on 01730 816638.

You can share your pictures of autumn colour with us on:

l Twitter by tweeting @southeastnt

l Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalTrustLondonandSouthEast

l Instagram by sending your pictures to southeastnt

l #autumnglow and we’ll share our favourites with our followers.

For the latest news and updates on autumn colour at a National Trust garden near you, please visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast

For more information on National Trust events, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events.

Report and picture contributed by The National Trust.