Arboretums and autumn gardens in Surrey
All change! The trees are turning to gorgeous red-brick, crimson and gold - and the best places to see them are these local arboretums and gardens. Naturally, we've also included the best nearby pubs.
Winkworth Arboretum, Hascombe
This 46 hectare arboretum was given to the National Trust over 60 years ago and has loads of rare trees and shrubs amongst the 1,000 varieties found in the gardens, many with berries, nuts and fruits. You’ll also find an impressive fungi selection (none of the magic variety, sorry). Booking is strongly recommended. Adult tickets £11, child tickets £5.50. Dogs welcome on short leads. nationaltrust.org.uk/winkworth-arboretum
Where to eat? Head to The White Horse, a gorgeous 16th century village pub that’s just a down the road in Hascombe. Food here is excellent high-end restaurant food. I’d book a table in advance, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend.
Ramster Gardens, Chiddingfold
The private Ramster Gardens open each year for only a short time and they’re well worth a wander. With more than 25 acres of gardens that includes woodlands, lakes and more formal gardens, the display is stunning at this time of year when. There are proper paths which twist and turn to reveal lovely surprises – sculptures, pretty lakes, formal plantings, rare trees and shrubs – and also make the gardens seem bigger than they actually are. The gardens and tea house are open until 31 Oct. Entry is £8 for adults, children under 16 free. Dogs on leads welcome. ramsterevents.com
Where to eat? We’re big fans of The Merry Harriers, in Hambledon, just 10 minutes drive from Ramster Gardens. Food is traditional gastropub fare – think traditional favourites like bangers and mash, burgers, honey glazed ham, eggs and chips, and fish and chips sitting alongside steak and fish options. Plus you can say hello to the llamas in field behind the pub!
I’m a big fan of Painshilll. It’s beautiful at any time of year, but in autumn it’s breathtaking. The gardens – created by Charles Hamilton in the 1700s – are set in 158 acres, with winding paths that take you to all corners, around and over a serpentine lake, and alongside vineyard plantings that produce sparkling wines. There’s also a man-made crystal grotto, a gothic temple (although these are both currently closed due to Covid), a ruined abbey, a waterwheel and a Turkish tent that overlooks much of the gardens. Adult tickets £10, children £5. Under 5s free. Dogs allowed on short leads. Bikes and scooters allowed for the under fives. painshill.co.uk
Where to eat? If you head into Cobham, there are several good choices including the Coppa Club, The Ivy Brasserie and 61st+3rd. But for a great pub, we’d carry on just out the other side to the family-friendly Cricketers, overlooking the green at Downside. The menu is classic British gastropub food with a French twist.
Savill Garden, Virginia Water
Created in the 1930s, the Savill Gardens are made up of 35 acres of interconnected gardens which includes the Hidden Gardens, Spring Wood, Summer garden and of course the Autumn Wood and Valley Gardens – which are spectacular at this time of the year as the maples and cherries strut their seasonal stuff. The fungi displays are also worth looking at. Adults £7.50-£13, children £3-£6.50. windsorgreatpark.co.uk
Where to eat? Ah, this is a no-brainer. If you haven’t yet been to The Bailiwick then you’re totally missing out and you should do something about it pronto. Owned and run by chef Steven Ellis, who comes with a Michelin-star training, and his wife Ami, you can expect something really special here. Ingredients are super local, including game from Great Windsor Park.
Claremont Landscape Gardens, Esher
Steeped in almost 300 years of history, the gardens at Claremont are an oasis of green throughout the year. But in October and November when the best of the autumn colour is on display, it’s something quite special as the maples turn a soft shade of amber. Many of the greatest names in landscape design history have put their stamp on the gardens over the years including Sir John Vanbrugh, Charles Bridgeman, William Kent and ‘Capability’ Brown. Adult tickets £11, child tickets £5.50. Dogs welcome on short leads from 1 Oct to 30 April. nationaltrust.org.uk/claremont-landscape-garden
Where to eat? The Wheatsheaf is less than five minutes away by car on Esher Green, and offers up consistently good homemade pub classics alongside a drinks menu of real ale. The Sunday roasts are said to be excellent.
The Sculpture Park, Churt
As well as more than 350 works of art, the 10-acre Sculpture Park near Farnham is also showing off its autumn beauty. Take the 2-mile trail which weaves through water gardens, woodlands and sculptures, all of which are for sale. Tickets must be prebooked online. Cost is £10 for adults, £5 for children (plus a booking fee). thesculpturepark.com
Where to eat? Bel and the Dragon in Churt is the nearest and an excellent option. There are also rooms, if you want to make a weekend of it. Or, head into central Farnham to the excellent Castle Inn, which is also a great choice.
RHS Gardens Wisley, near Woking
I love to visit the gardens at RHS Wisley at any time of the year. The summer borders are something to behold, but October and November also offer something quite special, not just the mature trees that are showing off their autumn colour but also the heather garden at Howard’s Field and the autumn flowering cyclamen, crocus and asters. Adult tickets £14.95, child £7.45. rhs.org.uk
Where to eat? Well, you’re a bit spoiled for choice here. The Anchor at Pyrford Lock, is wonderful, especially if the weather is kind and you can sit in the garden overlooking the River Wey. Or head into the the nearby town of Ripley, where there are a couple of good options including The Anchor and The Jovial Sailor. You’ll also find the Michelin-starred The Clock House, if you’re in the mood for fancy food.
Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, Ockley
The beautiful gardens created in the early 1980s by Hannah Peschar exhibit a changing collection of contemporary sculpture throughout the year from British and European artists. There’s only a short time left to catch the autumn colour – the gardens close on 31 Oct for the winter season. Entry is £12.50 for adults, £7.50 for children aged 12-16 (no under 12s). Over 60s and students concessions are £8. Advanced bookings are a must. Dogs are allowed on a short lead. hannahpescharsculpture.com
Where to eat? Traditional 17th century pub The Scarlett Arms is less than a mile away in the village of Walliswood and serves up traditional pub fare.
Kew Gardens, Richmond
I love Kew Gardens at any time of year, but during autumn it’s even more special. There’s an awesome 18 meter high Treetop Walkway overlooking the gardens and there are often cool art exhibitions to scope out. If you make the trip on a chilly day you can warm up in the iconic Victorian glasshouses. Adult tickets from £17.50, child tickets from £5.50. No dogs. kew.org
Where to eat? The independent and family-run Greyhound Pub in Kew gets top marks for food and service. And it’s just a stone’s throw away from the gardens.
Hatchlands Park, near Guildford
A circular walks that follows the edge of the 430-acre park through woodland dressed in its finest autumn colours, as well as open parkland with distant views of the house and the pretty Surrey countryside. Dogs allowed. Adults £9.50, children £4.75. nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park
Wakehurst Place, Haywards Heath, Sussex
The woodlands at the 500-acre Wakehurst Place are scattered with vibrant reds, burnt oranges, sunset yellows plus some pinks and purples at this time of year. The botanic garden is home to the Millennium Seed Bank. You must book your timed entry in advance. Adults £14, young people (17-25 years) £7.25, children free. kew.org/wakehurst/visit-wakehurst
Bolderwood Arboretum, near Lyndhurst, Hants
Spanning 566 square kilometres, the New Forest is quite frankly huge. Head to the Bolderwood Arboretum for some autumn tree gold, as the ferns turn a beautiful rusty red below. This area was originally part of the Bolderwood Lodge until 1833. Now, it’s open for hikers and bikers, plus there is the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary viewing platform for wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for giant redwood trees, which are among some of the tallest trees in Britain. Free parking but £3 donation suggested. Dogs welcome.
Blackwater Arboretum, near Brockenhurst, Hants
Yes, we’ve mentioned the New Forest already, but it’s so vast, we couldn’t help adding it in again! Blackwater is another tree-haven in the heart of this wild expanse. Take a stroll through the forest, brought to life with fiery yellow and crimson red leaves, and spot the wooden sculptures dotted around the trees. Handy hint: it has its own car parking spaces and toilet. Free parking but £3 donation suggested. Dogs welcome.
The Vyne, Basingstoke, Hants
Stop off at this pretty Tudor mansion for an Insta-worthy view of the autumn leaves. American liquidambar trees set the landscape on fire with their bright red leaves that change to yellow and orange as the seasons shift. The dahlias will still be in bloom too. Call a friend, go for a leisurely walk before a cuppa or hot chocolate at the kiosk. Adult tickets £8, children £4. Dogs welcome.