9 must-visit gardens across England for glorious autumn colours

From September to November, our treasured landscaped gardens and magnificent arboretums perform a stunning seasonal spectacle. A final celebration of colour before the first frost hits and the air turns cold. Trees ablaze with reds and golds, crunchy leaves carpet forest floors, and glorious autumn flowers bloom.

To help you discover some of autumn's greatest garden displays, we've picked nine of our favourite gardens to visit across England for observing autumn magic. Plus, we've included a selection of Collection inns nearby each one; perfect places to enjoy a drink, meal, or night's rest whilst you're there.

 

A national and local treasure created in the early 20th-century by Dr Wilfred Fox, a doctor who was hugely passionate about preserving the woodland close to his home. It is now owned by the National Trust and houses over 1,000 different species of shrubs and trees, many of which are rare.

Escape here during the autumn months and enjoy vibrant displays of colour from Norwegian, Japanese and American maples. Canine companions are welcome all year round, just make sure to keep them on the lead.

For after, we recommend The Merry Harriers only 8 minutes down the road for a delightful drink, meal or place to stay; a tiled-hung gem hidden deep in the Surrey Hills, oozing character and traditional 16th-century charm. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Stag on the River - a 11-minute drive away; The Swan Inn - a 16-minute drive away.

 

Walled gardens, fairy tale woods and stunning cycle trails adorn this 13,000-acre treasure, gifted to the National Trust by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, a Socialist MP and 'illogical Englishman'.

Discover a historical house surrounded by lakes, woodland, informal landscaped gardens, parkland and more. Stroll along leafy floors with lakeside views, cycle The Dragon Trail through golden trees, and discover a tranquil walled garden which is a beautiful haven to escape to during all seasons. Make sure to also keep an eye out for red squirrels.

Just a 20-minute drive away is William de Percy Inn, a former 17th-century coaching inn has which has been transformed into a chic, boutique hideaway, offering excellent fresh dishes, eight fun and very indulgent bedrooms, and a French-boudoir vibe throughout. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: Battlesteads - a 30-minute drive away.

 

Exbury Gardens, created by Lionel de Rothschild, a member of a famous banking family, are renowned for their outstanding collection of rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas. There are also superb woodland gardens and peaceful walks down to the banks of the picturesque Beaulieu River.

During autumn, the best areas to see brilliant colours are along the Maple Walk, specifically created for autumn, at Mrs Lionel's seat with views of the Japanese Bridge and trickling stream surrounded by vibrant acres and ferns, and at the Top Pond.

Not far from these gardens is The Old Mill, a creeper-clad 17th-century inn set in over five acres of grounds beside the Avon Water with its own delightful gardens. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Mayflower - a 25-minute drive away.

 

A spectacle of bright colours constantly glows throughout this stunning 120-acre landscaped garden, settled in the Sheffield Estate Parkland. However, autumn is the time of year when the garden comes alive.

The garden was originally created in the 18th century by 'Capability' Brown, before having several other owners who each incorporated their own creations into the land.

Meander along winding paths through colourful trees and fallen leaves before reaching four glistening lakes at the centre of the garden. Delightful woods and glades frame each lake which creates magnificent reflections on the water when the weather is calm.

The Griffin Inn, just a 6-minute drive down the road, is the perfect pub to curl up in afterwards. Run with charm and dedication by James Pullan, this 16th-century village gem is the real deal - a proper Sussex bolthole packed with wooden beams, real log fires - four in total - and sensational garden views. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Dorset Arms - a 21-minute drive away.

 

Just a few miles from the historic city of Cambridge, you'll find Anglesey Abbey, home to 114 acres of magnificent gardens, wonderful wildlife, and a working watermill.

As the trees turn golden and the days turn crisp, two of the best areas to explore are Jubilee Avenue where the hornbeams display a seasonal spectacle, and The Riverside Walk where on still days the water shows perfect reflections of the multicoloured trees.

Just a 17-minute drive away is The Black Bull, a classic Grade II listed thatched country pub and one of Cambridgeshire's historic gems, situated in the heart of the pretty village of Balsham. Furry friends are very welcome in the bar and overnight in all the bedrooms. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Red Lion - a 20-minute drive away; The Packhorse - a 23-minute drive away; The Three Hills - a 25-minute drive away.

 

Lying in its own valley, Stourhead is one of the finest landscaped gardens in the world and exhibits magical lake reflections. Lakeside paths lead past classical temples and follies, set against a backdrop of exotic trees which become ablaze with rich reds and oranges during autumn.

Climb King Alfred's Tower, a fine 50m folly, and from the top you can scan three countries. Sitting majestically above the garden is Stourhead House, a grand Palladian mansion filled with Chippendale furniture, Georgian paintings, and an exquisite Regency library.

Our suggested inn haven is The Bath Arms only a 13-minute drive away. Smack beside one of the entrances to Longleat House in peaceful Horningsham, this estate-owned pub with rooms dates from 1736 and is a striking, creeper-clad stone inn fronted by 200-year-old pollarded lime trees. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Grosvenor Arms, Hindon - a 15-minute drive away; The Beckford Arms - a 18-minute drive away; The Grosvenor Arms, Shaftesbury - a 22-minute drive away.

 

Batsford Arboretum was set up in 1886 by Algernon Freeman-Mitford, the grandfather of the famous Mitford sisters, who had travelled extensively through Asia - which is why it has a wonderful emphasis on species from the Far East (mainly Japanese maples, magnolias and pines) and is home to the National Collection of Japanese flowering cherries.

The collection also has several UK champion trees, famed for their size, plus a wide variety of species that are resplendent in autumn.

Only a 4-minute drive or 30-minute walk away is The Horse and Groom, a honey-hued Grade II listed Georgian inn nestled in the small and pretty village of Bourton-on-the-Hill. Escape here for a huge log roaring fire, dishes championing home grown fruit and vegetables, and comfortable bedrooms. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Porch House - a 14-minute drive away; The Sheep - a 14-minute drive away; The King's Head - a 21-minute drive away.

 

Standing at the entrance of the Lake District and nestled in a 1,600-acre woodland estate, you'll find a striking medieval house, home of the Strickland family for more than 800 years. During autumn, the Japanese maple trees in the limestone rock garden below the house ablaze with burnt reds and oranges.

Enjoy woodland walks through chestnut, hazel, birch, and oak trees before settling by the River Kent where, by mid-November, Norway maple trees will radiate with yellows and oranges.

Around the corner is The Punch Bowl Inn, a chic rural bolthole with invigorating fell walks radiating from the front door. This part of the Lake District is gentle and rolling, and the tranquil vibe is continued inside, where it is bliss to lounge in leather sofas with the newspaper and a pint of Tag Lag from Barngates Brewery. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: The Black Bull - a 24-minute drive away; The Black Swan - a 30-minute drive away.

 

Walk through magnificent woodland which radiates reds and golden hues at this glorious late Victorian country house, garden and historic parkland. From gentle strolls to more challenging treks, there are walks for everyone to enjoy. Plus, furry friends can join too.

Make sure to also wander around the grand gardens which radiate brilliant colours all year round, and to have a glance at Victorian life inside the impressive house. There are brilliant cycle trails across the parkland too which are suitable for all abilities, and bicycles can be hired on site.

Not too far away is Stargazy Inn, a coastal gem which stands above a charming fishing village and enjoys stunning views north along the coast to Tintagel. With an informal inn and a lively all-day café, Stargazy Inn focuses on fine dining in the evening, created using the best Cornish ingredients. Continue reading >

Other Collection inns nearby: Port Gaverne Hotel - a 38-minute drive away.

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Last updated 22.10.21

Photo credit: Shutterstock (Dave Head - Wallington/Marius Comanescu - Sheffield Park/Kevin Standage - Stourhead/Debu55y - Sizergh/PJ Photography - Lanhydrock)