The overnight frosts of October bring on autumn in all its glory. Whilst summer lingers on with a fine display of late flowering bulbs such as Colchicum (Autumn ‘crocus’) and the long flowering asters, dahlias and sunflowers. There is nothing finer than a walk in the sun on an October’s day, so leaving the glasshouses by the main doors from the sub-tropical house turn right and walk along the terrace, where the bright pink blooms of Nerine bowdenii (1) can be seen amongst other late flowers such as the blue tubular Iochroma. Leave the terrace and turn left down the main pinetum path, then right down the shallow sleeper steps, on your right are the purple flowers of Elsholtzia stauntonii (2) a very late flowering shrub in the mint family. Around it are the electric blue blooms and autumn colour of Ceratostigma plumbaginoides and at the foot of the steps on the left its larger cousin Ceratostigma willmottianum (3). Looking over the lawn towards the playground you will see the early autumn colour of Acer rubrum ‘Schlesingeri’ (4). Make your way down into the rock garden and then along the narrow gravel path through the rhododendron walk, where you might be lucky enough to detect the burnt sugar scent of the candyfloss or kadsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) generated by its yellowing leaves. Leaving the rhododendron walk cross over into the grass garden, where the tufted Hakonechloa macra ‘Mediopicta’ (5) covers the ground next to taller grasses such as the red tinged Pannicum virgatum ‘Squaw’ (7) and the delicate feathery Pennisetum macrourum (6). Walk back to the main lawn via the steep path up the bank past the woodland, where, after passing the lawn aviary (don’t forget to drop in for the autumn bulb and apple display from 21st of October onwards) you will see Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ (8) and as the month progresses later autumn colours on the cherries and other larger trees. Don’t forget to stop for a warming drink or some food at the terrace restaurant and a warm up in the glasshouses, where there is lots to see as well.
Check out our other seasonal walks in the botanical gardens.