Due to Coronavirus, many gardens require pre-booking before visiting. Please always check with the garden first, as opening days and times may change, and gardens may be closed at short notice. Facilities such as catering and play areas may also be affected.
Whether you want to pick up planting ideas, pack the camera and take some seasonal shots, or simply enjoy a crisp, colourful stroll, RHS Partner Gardens make a wonderful autumn day out. Here are just a few of the gardens you won’t want to miss – simply click on the garden name for full details of free entry times for RHS members.
Plenty of autumn delights await at The Garden House in Devon, from the toffee scent of Cercidiphyllum japonicum to showy dahlias and heleniums in the long borders. The colder nights trigger the Acer Glade into a dazzling display – immerse yourself in a blaze of colour from cultivars including fine-leaved Acer palmatum ‘Kinshii’ and arching, crimson A. ‘Inaba-shidare’.
Get a bird's eye view of autumn colour at The Garden House
As the days shorten, plantings at The Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex become increasingly dramatic. Vivid specimen trees such as Ginkgo biloba and swamp cypress, alongside tapestries of arching grasses, seed heads and delicate Crocus speciosus, will have photographers reaching for the camera.
Drummond Gardens, Perth and Kinross, is a garden to visit for sheer spectacle. Stand on the terrace for a bird’s-eye view of the formal parterre below, designed to give a breathtaking palette of autumn colours. “The acers are stupendous,” says Access Manager Ray Biggs.
Autumn sees staff at Dalemain Mansion and Historic Gardens, Cumbria, busily harvesting fruit on The Apple Walk, ready for keeping in the 16th-century apple store. Cultivars including ancient ‘Nonpareil’ and ‘Scotch Bridget’ – a Dalemain favourite – are used to make apple treats for the tearoom.
Sheffield Park and Garden in East Sussex is an outstanding autumn destination, home to more than 70 vivid Acer species and cultivars. On a still day, they cast striking reflections on the mirror-like surface of the ‘Capability’ Brown lakes. Other seasonal treats include Nyssa, the buttery yellows of the Birch Grove, glowing deciduous oaks and rust-coloured Taxodium.
Autumn isn’t just about foliage! As the days cool and shorten, rare and strikingly colourful waxcap fungi begin to emerge in the alder and oak copses of The Waun Las National Nature Reserve at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire.
The kitchen garden at Painswick Rococo Garden, Gloucestershire, is filled with heirloom produce not often seen. Step into the bothy to see an array of cultivars that would have been grown in the Rococo garden, from pumpkins and globe artichokes to leeks, potatoes and heritage apples.
Explore a rich heritage of fruit and vegetable growing at West Dean Gardens in West Sussex. There are more than 100 cultivars of apples and 45 of pears, including a wide range of Victorian cultivars and those with links to the local area – many of them trained into beautiful traditional shapes. Further afield, take a stroll through the 20ha (49 acres) St Roches Arboretum, where oak, chestnut and beech are rich with autumn tints.