Autumn colours have just started to wash through the trees at Stourhead’s landscape gardens as the team at the National Trust property predicted potentially one of their best years for Autumn colours.
Thanks to the huge number of tree types at Stourhead, the fiery colours of Autumn start early and have a long season, being expected to develop over the next six to eight weeks.
The wet weather in the summer, while a problem for many orchards, has caused the trees to produce large numbers of leaves which are now showing Autumn colour as the weather turns colder.
Alan Power, the head gardener at Stourhead said they have over 600 species of tree and shrub in the landscape gardens, planted 250 years ago to create a changing view as the seasons progress.
“We did have a burst of warm weather late in the year which allowed the trees to increase their sugar levels. Combined with the wet weather which has allowed the tree to hold more of their leaves than in a long hot summer, it should allow richer and warmer Autumn colours to develop and a real spectacle of warm colours washing through the woodland from now right through to early November.
“If the weather is kind – and we don’t have storms in the next few weeks – there is the potential for one of the best and longest Autumn seasons we have seen at Stourhead.”
To guide visitors wanting to know how the autumn colours are developing the Stourhead Leaf Line has been set up for the latest updates.
The special Autumn leaf line – 01747 841152 – will have regular recorded updates from Stourhead head gardener Alan Power. The recorded update is accessed by dialling the number and selecting option 6.
‘We had a few early hints of autumn, and the Maples, both the Norway and Japanese Maples, are always the first to turn with the rest of the garden is coming along a nice steady pace,’ said Alan.
‘We are fortunate to have a garden with such variety which means that Autumn is never a single day event here – there is no best time to visit – it is a six to eight week period when people love to come again and again and watch the changes as the colours wash across the different trees in the garden.
Every autumn at Stourhead is different as the trees respond to weather throughout the summer and subsequently during September. Depending on the amount of moisture in the ground and the stresses the trees have suffered from weather over the summer months, autumn can start very suddenly or can develop gently across the gardens.
Alan added: “Autumn is perhaps my favourite season in the gardens at Stourhead. The plant collection itself is worth coming to see but added to it the architectural features within the landscape, the way the trees reflect in the lake on the calm days – especially when the tulip trees on the islands turn yellow – makes it a very special time of year.”
The vision of the garden was laid down in the 18th century by Henry Hoare II who placed Stourhead at the forefront of the 18th-century English landscape movement. Inspired by the views ofItaly captured by artists in paint, he decided to create a landscape garden at Stourhead that would bring art to life.
His work was carried on by his grandson Richard Colt Hoare who added to the garden and developed the current paths also adding many of the broadleaved trees, especially beech, acers, chestnuts, planes and the tulip trees.
For more information on events at Stourhead visit the website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead