Sunday, 3 October 2010 12:00 AM
There’s a rustle of leaves underfoot and a hint of a chill in the air. Autumn can be the most beautiful time to enjoy getting outdoors and after a (relatively) dry summer in 2010 the display of red and gold colours in Britain’s woodlands and gardens is set to be a good one.
Here are Travelbite.co.uk’s picks for the top five places to enjoy spectacular shows of autumn foliage:
Kew Gardens in London
If you live in London or its environs, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are a clear favourite for enjoying the beauty of autumn.
The 18m high Xstrata Treetop Walkway is particularly popular in the autumn, views across acres of show-stopping trees – a haze of golden browns, burnt oranges and deep reds – to the London skyline.
You can walk a 200m circuit up high in the Arboretum canopy to take in the autumnal transformation of sweet chestnuts, limes and deciduous oaks, planted in the 18th century.
At Halloween there will be special spooky tours running hourly on October 29th-31st, with mysterious tales of Kew as you explore these magnificent gardens.
Kew in the country: Wakehurst Place
You may have been to Kew but did you know that they also have a country estate in the heart of the West Sussex countryside?
The 500-acre estate near Haywards Heath is renowned for its autumn colours and is organising special weekends so people can make the most of nature’s dazzling display, with guided walks, minibus tours, and an information stall.
Autumn highlights around the estate include red-leafed maples, amber sweetgums, and the golden yellows of Wakehurst’s national collection of birches.
And as well as the sights of autumn, there are also the smells – Cercidiphyllum japonicum, known as the Candy Floss tree, is a big hit with visitors because of its distinctive smell of burnt sugar.
One of the largest and grandest of the Elizabethan period, Burghley House in Lincolnshire offers a blaze of colour in autumn, as well as special events to bring the country estate’s season to a close.
This year the private South Gardens will be open in autumn for the first time, with a chance to see the mature oak and lime trees planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1844.
Generations of the Cecil family have shaped the gardens at Burghley and this year the State Rooms will showcase a glorious selection of autumnal flowers, to show us the best of Autumn colours inside the house as well as out.
The Cotswolds, Oxfordshire
Picturesque villages, old market towns and rolling countryside – why not enjoy the beauty of the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire surrounded by the autumn colours?
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds unfold before you to reveal ancient churches, fascinating museums and world-famous stately homes such as Blenheim Palace.
In the same area, Waterperry Gardens, between Oxford and Aylesbury, is a great place to surround yourself with colourful trees, shrubs and flowers, especially in the arboretum.
It was voted favourite gardens in the south-east of England by Gardener’s World readers – and also the best place for afternoon tea!
Powis Castle and Gardens, Wales
Looked after by the National Trust, the medieval-era castle has extensive landscaped gardens, parkland and a deer park. The garden is one of the few remaining examples of a pre-18th-century formal garden in Britain.
If you want to discover more about how the gardens are cared for at this time of year, join the gardeners for the ‘Autumn Walk with the Gardeners’ on October 21st, to find out what’s in flower and the work they undertake during the autumn months.
There is plenty to interest in the castle itself, with the fascinating artefacts of the Clive Museum and the Joshua Reynolds portrait of Henrietta Herbert.
By Natasha von Geldern
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