The best gardens in Hampshire for Autumn leaf peeping
Make the most of the harmonious pinnacle in the natural calendar and catch the last of the autumn colour at a garden near you this November.
2020 is officially a golden year for Autumnal colour. Quite literally the best live show in town right now, it’s all so lovely, we’ve embraced leaf peeping (it’s a thing, honestly) and taken it to a new level on Insta with photos of fabulous foliage filling our feed. Best foot forward – time to go outdoors and soak up Mother Nature’s kaleidoscope of colour.
Exbury Gardens, New Forest
For the first time in its 101-year history, Exbury Gardens has extended its season throughout November and into December. Always a showstopper here, the 200-acre woodland landscape is ablaze with seasonal colour, its acer collection vibrant in red while headlining Nyssa and Oxydendrum, part of a National Collection, are brilliantly beautiful in orange and yellow hues.
Hinton Ampner, near Arlesford
National Trust favourite Hinton Ampner is well known for its superbly-tended gardens, a year-round mecca for locals and garden enthusiasts. Autumn never fails to disappoint. Root vegetables grow in the walled garden looked over by Hinton’s scarecrow and his little dog. Around the lily pond ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ roses flower until the end of November. The parkland at the back of the house is filled with yellow and gold foliage from ancient oaks and beeches and the deep red of the Norway maple – a leaf peeping paradise.
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey
This beautiful 180-acre garden and arboretum was established in the 1950s by – you guessed it – the nurseryman Sir Harold Hillier, who gifted to Hampshire County Council in the 1970s. Catch a few leafy snaps as you stroll through Acer Valley, an atmospheric valley of Japanese and other maples and shaded by mature oaks. Look out too for the golden reflection of branches overhanging the lake. Très tranquille.
The Vyne, Sherbourne St. John, near Basingstoke
Often overlooked in favour of the Tudor mansion itself, The Vyne’s extensive gardens and woodlands are great fun to explore and the trails are not too taxing for littlies to walk around. Rustle through fallen leaves looking out for ancient oaks, bright red American liquidambar trees that change to yellow and orange as the seasons shift and the deep russet-brown leaves of the bald cypress deciduous conifer.
Mottisfont, near Romsey
Another National Trust big-hitter, spot striking reddish orange and yellow leaves at Mottisfont and the National Collection of plane trees, including the colourful (and vast) great plane. Chestnuts, hornbeams and the acid green-turned-golden leaves of two magnificent tulip trees (pictured) also put on a colourful show. Complete the sensory stroll by heading to the Beech Circle for a Zen woodland ‘sound experience’ by composer Hywel Davies, combining Japanese percussion with a bass baritone voice: aaaannnd breathe…