Published: 06:00, 12 October 2020
| Updated: 08:18, 12 October 2020
This autumn is expected to be spectacular, thanks to six months of warm sunshine, according to experts.
The intensity of autumn colour and its length depends on the amount of sunshine trees are able to get in the run-up to the season and this year's conditions have been perfect, says the National Trust.
Here's where the trust recommends for seeing the best of the season's sights in the coming weeks:
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst
The fairytale ruins of the Old Castle nestle in the valley surrounded by fiery colours. With mists rising from the moat, photo opportunities are a given – just pick a spot and you’re guaranteed a great shot, while the estate is filed with reds, yellows and golds. The garden, estate and shop are now open, from 10am to 5pm, and the café from 10am to 4pm. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle
Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks
The exotic garden is famed for its vibrant autumn colour with varieties such as the Japanese maple, while being so high up on the Kentish Weald, the views across the surrounding countryside are an added bonus as the woodlands change colour. The garden is open daily from 10am to 5pm and the cafe and shop have varying opening times. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden
Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens
The colours in the garden have an earthy autumnal palette this time of year while the hedges surrounding many parts of the garden take on a different hue. The garden takes on a softer, more subtle feel with the warm brick of the buildings merging into the autumnal tones in the garden. The garden, South Cottage, Long Library , restaurant and shop are open daily from10.30am to 5.30pm. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden
The autumn borders feature a variety of seasonal species such as Yellow Wax Bells, Cyclamen, Brunnera and heathers and the views over the Kent countryside are spectacular. The garden is open every day from 10am to 5.30pm while the house, studio, restaurant and shop opening times vary. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell
Ightham Mote, Borough Green
Visitors can enjoy the sweet smell of the Katsura toffee apple tree, which releases the smell of burnt sugar from late September near the North Lake. The garden is open from10am to 5pm, while the café, shop and exhibition opening times vary. Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote
Although Knole has lavish interiors, the estate isn’t complete without the surrounding parkland, which is at the height of its beauty in the autumn, cloaked in mist. The ancient trees, that have seen many famous visitors over the centuries, turn glorious shades of golden colour, accompanied by the wild deer. The car park is open from 10am to 5pm and the house, shop and café opening times vary. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/knole
The promise of a spectacular autumn is because sunshine helps increase the leaf sugar content which, in turn, results in a range of pigments – from reds and oranges, to greens, golds and browns – as leaves turn.
Enough sunshine during the day, cold conditions at night and no heavy rain are still needed to ensure the long, colourful season predicted.
Tom Hill, trees and woodland advisor for the South East, said: “Autumn displays tend to be very strong in the South East because it’s the most densely wooded part of England. It also supports the highest concentration of ancient trees and ancient woodland in the National Trust’s care.”
Head gardener Matthew Scott, at Emmetts Garden, said: “The garden lifts the mood at a time of year when the nights are drawing in. The mornings are crisp and demanding – a injection of colour around every corner can’t help but lift the soul. To stop and take advantage of the dominant position in the Kentish Weald and look out on Ashdown Forest and the North Weald as the trees work the magic over the months is a spectacle to behold."
The trust is also running an Everyone Needs Nature campaign, where donations go towards nature projects including planting 20 million trees.