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Where to see autumn colour in Sussex

Dust off the walking boots and grab that camera - we've got 10 of the best places in Sussex for enjoying all the visual delights autumn has to offer.

Sheffield Park, Uckfield

This lovely 250 acre National Trust garden was planted with autumn in mind, and comes into its own as the leaves turn. The woodlands play host to a festival of colour, and the red and gold acer grove is a highlight of the autumn garden. Dogs are welcome, booking essential.

Michelham Priory House & Gardens, Upper Dicker

James Neal

Visitors to these lovely gardens, which date back to 1229 and are encircled by the country’s largest moat will be treated to some tree-mendous sights this autumn. Head gardener James Neal is especially proud of this Hollow Oak; “Its a tree our visitors love to experience and is at least 500 years old, its so hollow that you can poke your head inside and look up to the sky.”

Nymans, near Handcross

Set in the High Weald with splendid views, the Nymans estate is a series of experimental designs with spectacular planting and all-year-round beauty, created in the fashion of early 20th century gardening. Both a horticulturalist’s dream and a peaceful country garden, it’s easy to lose yourself in its intimate and surprising corners.

Standen, East Grinstead

This 12 acre hillside garden is a seasonal delight and home to an award winning plant collection. Wider footpaths on the estate lead into the Ashdown Forest and High Weald area of Outstanding Beauty. (And to warm up you can explore inside the picture perfect Arts & Crafts family home complete with William Morris interiors.)

Tilgate Park, Crawley

pic: Ashdownforest.com

This large recreational park situated south of busy Crawley is a hidden gem and brilliant with kids. Originally a 2,185-acre part of an ancient Forest, the park houses a huge lake, the gardens of a former country mansion, large play area plus nature centre featuring captive breeding of vulnerable and endangered animal species

West Dean Gardens, near Chichester

For cracking autumn colour you can’t beat West Dean. Creatively inspired by its heritage and South Downs setting, the site include a Walled Kitchen garden, 13 working Victorian glasshouses, a stunning 300 foot Edwardian Pergola, and a fifty acre arboretum accessed by a beautiful two mile parkland walk. (Don’t worry there’s a tea room, but do book in advance.)

Leonardslee Gardens & Lake, Lower Beeding

These world-famous Grade 1 listed gardens near Horsham do autumn very, very well indeed. Hundreds of different types of trees put in the most spectacular display, joined by woodland fungi. Don’t miss the oak and acer walk for blazing reds and bronzes, and follow beech trees down to the lakes to see the seasonal finery reflected in the water. The resident wallaby herd is easy to spot as it forages through the gardens. Worked up an appetite? Book Afternoon Tea in the restaurant.

Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, Haywards Heath

Kew’s sister site is the perfect place to catch autumn colour, with the wild botanic gardens transformed into a riot of reds, oranges, yellows and bronze. It’s a great spot for a family visit with heaps of space to run riot and plenty of Insta-opps. Don’t miss the sweet-smelling katsura tree by the Mansion Pond – it’s known as the candyfloss tree thanks to the scent given off by its autumn leaves.

Ashdown Forest, Forest Row, East Sussex

Famously the home of a certain Winnie The Pooh, Ashdown Forest houses another rarity, a heathland habitat. Think golden bracken and a purplish glow from the heather. It’s also a former deer-hunting forest and still hosts a few Bambi today. Walkers and horse riders are welcome in the Forest itself but, bizarrely, cycling’s a no-go.

RSPB Pulborough Brooks, Pulborough

The woodlands of this reserve in the Arun Valley turn golden this season, and the floors are studded with jewel-like fungi – spot them all following the trail around the heath. Wildlife is drawn like a magnet to this wetland habitat, and you can check what species has recently been sighted on the chalkboard at the visitor centre.

2 comments on “Where to see autumn colour in Sussex”

  • Marc October 31, 2021

    Definitely recommend Sheffield Park (need to book this time of year) but Wakehurst Place is Ardingly, Haywards Heath, not East Grinstead.

    Reply
    • maddy November 7, 2021

      well spotted!

      Reply

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