Autumn trail

PUBLISHED: 13:05 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:18 20 February 2013

Leigh Clapp enjoys a stroll through the woodland gardens at Exbury as the foliage becomes a blaze of gold, red and bronze hues

Created by Lionel de Rothschild in the 1920's, the 200 acre Exbury Gardens offer the visitor great horticultural variety in a beautiful setting. Superb autumn colour is provided in the woodland garden, from a range of deciduous trees, including maples, birch and the National Collections of Nyssa and Oxydendrum. Exbury is also famous for the
spring displays of rhododendrons, azalea, camellias and magnolias. Throughout the year there is much to enjoy in the rock garden, exotic garden, herbaceous areas,
ponds, cascades, river walk and seasonal trails.

Seasonal splendour
Using the Autumn Trail brochure take a circuit through the gardens to admire the bonfire of colours. Highlights include the rich crimsons from the acers, golden cotinus leaves and the intensity of the nyssas as they change from burnished tones to shimmering scarlet. The beauty of the season is undeniable as Mother Nature ends the growing season with a final crescendo.
Exbury is the result of Lionel de Rothschild's vision and dedication that continues through his descendents. The broad palette of plants includes rarities and hybrids of various species, many collected by the renowned plant hunters of the early 20th century.
Himalayan rhododendrons and the many azaleas were especially prized for stocking the woodlands at Exbury. The legacy remains today through sponsorship of overseas plant hunters and the guided evolution of one of the finest woodland gardens of the country.

Pay a visit
Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, Southampton
March to November 8
(10am to 5pm)

Get the look
• Increase the autumnal display in your garden.
• Consider the possibilities of scale and combination.
• As well as trees, include shrubs with autumn foliage, seedheads, berries and flowers.
• Plant layers, from tree canopies to groundcovers.
• Many of the best plants for autumn colour prefer acid soils.
• Plan harmonies or contrasts of colours.
• The colours have greater impact against evergreen shrubs and trees.
• Underplant with autumn bulbs.
• Hard-to-beat choices include - parrotia, viburnum, euonymus, cornus, cotinus, crataegus, sedum, chrysanthemum, sedum and vitis.

Top 10 autumn trees
Acer - golds and reds
Amelanchier - orange
Betula - russet
Cercidiphyllum - yellow, orange, red
Cercis - purple
Ginkgo - soft yellow
Liquidambar - gold, crimson
Malus - gold, scarlet fruits
Nyssa - orange to red
Sorbus - red fruits

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