So it’s official — a walk to take in the seasonal colours of autumn is good for our wellbeing, according to new research by the National Trust.
Indeed, now is the time for considering what we might want to plant to give us a blaze of autumn colour in future years, whether it’s Japanese maples or other shrubs and trees which produce stunning burnt orange, red and burgundy hues as well as vibrant berries.
Here are some of the places you may find inspiration this autumn:
Thorp Perrow Arboretum, Bedale, North Yorkshire (www.thorpperrow.com/01677 425 323) This amazing arboretum, woodland garden and falconry centre has 85 acres of woodland walks and boasts one of the largest and rarest collections of trees and shrubs in the north of England and holds five National Collections - ash, lime, walnut, laburnum and cotinus.
Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wickenfenautumnwalk) Wicken Fen is one of Europe’s most important wetlands, supporting an abundance of wildlife. The raised boardwalk and lush grass droves allow easy access to a lost landscape where visitors can enjoy the vibrant russet tones of the sedge in the autumn months.
Drummond Gardens, Muthill, Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland (Open to Oct 31, www.drummondcastlegardens.co.uk/01764 681 433) This Scottish gem boasts one of the finest formal gardens in Europe. Designed in the shape of the St Andrew’s Cross, the parterre was built by garden designer Lewis Kennedy in the early 19th century. Fountains, urns and statuary demonstrate the Italianate style and in autumn it comes into its own when the sunlight hits the leaves of 14 different species of acer along with the russets and gold hues in the woodland regions.
Powis Castle, Powys (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/01938 551 944) Rising above the terraced garden and estate, this medieval fortress provides a fantastic autumnal setting. The warm colours of the castle appear to echo the rich tones of seasonal foliage, as the red walls match the red vines and leaves in the surrounding woodlands. Follow the route through the woods and look out for bird and bat boxes and see what other wildlife and bugs you can spot around the grounds.
Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire (www.trentham.co.uk/01782 646646) Contemporary designer Piet Oudolf’s Rivers of Grass are at their most spectacular at this time of year - and walking right through the tall Molinias is positively encouraged. Hot autumn colours simmer as light softly hits the planting among the 70 flower beds in the Italian Gardens, while the swathes of coloured grasses in the Rivers of Grass make a staggering impact.There’s also woodland originally planted by Capability Brown and more trees, chosen especially for their autumn colour, have been recently planted.
Divis Mountain, Hannahstown, Belfast, County Antrim (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/divisautumnwalk) The colour purple dominates the mountain of Divis in the autumn which is set in the heart of the Belfast Hills. Look out for the purple-coloured and wonderfully named Devil’s-bit Scabious carpets. It’s a curious-looking plant, with a purple head with antlers sticking out and is the food source for the marsh fritillary butterfly, only found on three sites on Divis.
Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucestershire (www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt/01666 880 220) Established in 1829 by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son, George, much of Westonbirt’s renowned autumn colour is often credited to Sir George’s plantings of Japanese maples between 1875 and 1900, many of which are still alive today. Westonbirt is home to the National Japanese Maple Collection, with more than 200 different types in the collection. The Forestry Commission opened Westonbirt Arboretum to the public in 1961 and, in 1966, a new Acer Glade was established alongside the original one planted by Robert and George Holford in 1870.
Mount Stewart, Newtownards, County Down (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mount-stewart/028 4278 8387) Follow the lake walk to discover the ornamental trees and shrubs in their autumn coats of red and gold, reflected in the still water of the lake. There are all kinds of things for kids to discover as well, including red squirrels and ducks, figures of dinosaurs, cheetahs, orangutans, squirrels and dodos resting among unique plants. The colours around the lake change as the season passes, while the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world