Great Gardens to Visit in the North East this Autumn
As autumn arrives, the new season's colour and interest make these gardens well worth a visit
The Alnwick Garden
There is always so much to see at The Alnwick Garden. The pinks and oranges of the Echinacea Purpurea contrast with the whites, reds and browns of the Actaea Simplex, creating a multi-seasonal display. Kept behind black iron gates, the small but deadly Poison Garden is filled with toxic, intoxicating and narcotic plants. The newest addition is the Australian native Gympie Gympie with a sting (apparently) that feels like being set on fire and electrocuted at the same time. Sensibly it’s kept in a glass cage under strict lock and key. For something a little less dangerous, the garden’s Cherry Orchard has the largest collection of ‘Taihaku’ in the world, with 329 trees. Although the characteristic white flowers don’t bloom again until the end of April, in autumn the Taihaku are just as stunning, with their leaves turning an impressive copper colour.
Denwick Lane, Alnwick NE66 1FJ
Durham Botanic Gardens
The first hints of autumn start to show in late September at the Durham Botanic Garden, one of the highlights being the sweet, sugary smells of the Katsura tree as it turns golden yellow. The season’s colours are particularly prominent in the Oriental Collection and the North American Arboretum. The garden’s wildflower meadow is less colourful, as from October the meadow is grazed by rare breed Manx Loaghtan and Hebridean sheep. If the weather isn’t co-operating, escape to the warmth of the glasshouses where you will find everything from a tropical rainforest to desert cacti.
Hollingside Lane, South Road, Durham DH1 3TN
0191 334 2887
Wallington Hall Gardens
As summer makes way for autumn, a trip to Wallington’s walled gardens means you need to look out for dahlias, asters, salvias and rudbeckia blooming in the borders until the first frosts, and don’t miss the vibrant red, yellow and orange maples tucked away in a quiet corner of the East Wood. Walk beneath the canopy of changing colours and see them reflected in the still ponds. With so much to see, why not hire a bike from the cycle cabin just off the courtyard and discover the huge estate on two wheels?
Cambo, Northumberland NE61 4AR
Wynyard Hall Gardens
Set within 120 acres of private grounds, the gardens and arboretum of Wynyard Hall are open seven days a week, year-round, and while the 3,000 David Austen roses in the Rose Garden are no longer in bloom there is still plenty to see in autumn, from the horse chestnuts which are the first trees whose colour turns in the arboretum, to the Kitchen Garden full of seasonal crops and herbs.
Wynyard Hall, Tees Valley TS22 5NF
Cragside is well known as the former home of inventor William Armstrong and, illuminated by hydro-electricity and powered by hydraulics, it was essentially Britain’s original ‘smart’ home. Many people don’t realise that the gardens surrounding the house are equally impressive. Man-made lakes, tumbling waterfalls and swathes of rhododendron combine to form the surrounding landscape imagined and engineered by Armstrong. You can wander amongst the towering trees in the Pinetum, explore the weaving paths and tumbling cascades in the Rock Garden and witness the changing seasons in the Formal Gardens.
Rothbury NE65 7PX
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
A must-visit on those rainy autumn days, Sunderland’s Winter Gardens are an undercover tropical paradise. Find more than 2,000 plants thriving in the glass rotunda, pay a visit to the exotic resident Koi Carp, as well as enjoying a bird’s eye view of Mowbray Park from the treetop walkway. This autumn, you can immerse yourself in art and nature at the same time with the botanical drawing sessions hosted by artist-tutor Shaney Barton in the beautiful, inspirational and tranquil setting of the gardens.
Burdon Road, Sunderland SR1 1PP
0191 561 2323
The Gertrude Jekyll Garden
On the pint-sized Holy Island, this delightful walled garden was designed by gardening guru Gertrude Jekyll in 1911 for her friend Edwin Lutyens, while he was transforming Lindisfarne Castle into a holiday home. The National Trust used Jekyll’s original planting scheme to re-establish the garden and return it to its original glory – with some slight modifications – and during September, gladioli and sedum add to the spectacle. The garden is located where the castle’s garrison had originally had its vegetable plot and it’s free to visit, even if you haven’t paid to enter the castle itself.
Holy Island TD15 2SH
A horticultural gem in the Northumbrian countryside, Longframlington Gardens has more than 12 acres of gardens to explore and features more than 1,000 types of trees, shrubs and perennials. A living exhibition of plants, the Garden & Arboretum Walk gives you the opportunity to take in the plant collection and the carefully-designed planting schemes. Wander through the meandering paths, admire the rope art and peer through the ‘look throughs’ at stunning vistas.
Longframlington, Morpeth NE65 8BE
Thorp Perrow Arboretum
During autumn the woodland trails here are set ablaze as the leaves on the trees and shrubs morph through hues of gold, orange, red, brown and purple. There are plenty of ways to pass your time at Thorp Perrow: meet exotic birds and animals, explore the 100 acres of arboretum or let the kids run wild in the adventure play area. This season, guided tours led by curator Faith Douglas, and ‘Fungus Forays’ with Dr Keith Thomas offer a fascinating insight into the world of fungi in the Arboretum.
Bedale DL8 2PS
Seaton Delaval Hall
Seaton Delaval Hall has so much going on all year round and as autumn arrives the hall gardens are ripe for exploration. At this time of year, dahlias and echinaceas keep the herbaceous borders looking colourful while in the parterre the nicotianas come to life and the ginkgo biloba tree turns a bright-yet-delicate yellow, contrasting with the oranges and reds of the beeches around it. In the arboretum the rowan trees are dripping with brightly-coloured berries, there are home-grown pumpkins in the Community Kitchen Garden, and the cosmos continues to flower.
The Avenue, Seaton Sluice NE26 4QR
0191 237 9100
Eggleston Hall Gardens
No two visits to this garden are the same, as new plants are continually added to their collection. The walled garden specialises in rare and unusual species, with an emphasis on hardy herbaceous stock which thrive in the climate of the North, while the wall supports a variety of fruit trees which produce fruit and colourful foliage into autumn. Highlights include the ruins of the old village church and a scale model of the iconic Angel of the North on one of the walls.
Eggleston Lane, Barnard Castle DL12 0AG
Howick Hall Gardens & Arboretum
There are bulbs blooming through the year in Howick Hall’s gardens. In autumn it is the turn of the purple and white colchicums, which were planted by Lady Grey and are larger than most modern ones. Trees in autumnal hues are everywhere, from the Katsura to the Cotinus coggygria. In the 65-acre arboretum the energetic can embark on a long walk and admire the most spectacular show that autumn delivers – you’ll find around 11,000 trees and shrubs from six different geographical groups here.
Howick Hall, Alnwick NE66 3LB
Monteviot House & Gardens
Open until 31st October, Monteviot Gardens are designed to be enjoyed long into autumn. With a series of distinct gardens there is so much to see, from the Laburnum Tunnel to the walled Rose Garden surrounded by copper leaves. The large walnut tree is a sight to see in all its autumn glory, while the vivid reds of the acer borders stands out against the gold, purple and green of surrounding leaves. Bordering the winding River Teviot, there are plenty of imaginative water features, while at this time of year the Sorbus Avenue is our favourite, complemented by a hydrangea and spirea border, and fronted by an avenue of deep blue agapanthus.
Monteviot House, Jedburgh TD8 6UH
Belsay Hall Gardens
Enjoy year-round seasonal interest at Belsay’s Grade I-listed gardens. At the entrance to the Quarry Garden (a unique micro-climate with exotic plants around every turn) see the brilliant white bark of the Himalayan birch, along with the red-leaved Euonymus, all beneath a towering copper beech. Meanwhile, a planting of large aralia gives colour along the fern walk while you can also expect to see light purple autumn crocus flowering in the meadow. On a rock pinnacle nearby, a massive Vitis coignetiae gives a spectacular crimson show, towering 30 feet above the quarry below, and the scent of burnt sugar fills the air from the yellow Japanese Katsura tree.
Belsay, Northumberland NE20 0DX