Autumn is a magical time, and this year has been particularly impressive. As the light levels and temperatures change, chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves, is broken down allowing the colours of the sugars stored through the summer to be seen. Carotene produces yellows and anthocyanin giving us reds and purples. Because of such long hours of sunlight through our hot dry summer this year the trees have very high levels of sugars giving us one of the most impressive autumns I can remember.
Within the garden we have many beautiful exotic trees that peek at this time of year, some of which were planted by William Robinson himself. Parrotia persica, from Iran, is the colour of gold at the moment and in the wild garden, under the towering specimens of Corsican pine, is looking out of this world. Japanese maples have also been awesome. We have some really good specimens of Acer palmatum which have coloured up like never before, but Acer Japonicum has been especially good. This is a smaller tree than A. palmatum with chunkier leaves and has been bright red for the last five weeks.
Every year we plant new trees, to ensure that this beautiful collection is as interesting in 100 years, as it is today. Autumn is the perfect time to do this, while the soil is still warm and the new tree can put on a bit of root growth before winter really sets in. This year we will be planting a new Nyssa sinensis for its beautiful red autumn colour. Although our baby tree doesn’t look too impressive now, it will not be long until it is as magnificent as our beautiful specimen above the croquet lawn, which has been out of this world all autumn.
Although we have many rare and special specimens, which shine out in the autumn, it is our native woodlands which surround the manor that give the most beautiful show. The native beech has turned the countryside bright yellow and our oaks, which are usually drab and brown are golden this year. I have always wanted to see the world-famous fall colour of New England, but this year I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than Old England!