Sparkling jewel lilies and wild autumn art are the draw at Exbury in October, as the world-famous New Forest woodland gardens gear up for an explosion of autumn colour.
The Gardens’ Five Arrows Gallery will be ablaze with the sparkling colours of Nick de Rothschild’s ‘jewel lily’ (Nerine sarniensis) collection, the largest of its type in the country. The nerines are shown alongside the ‘wild autumn art’ of artist Peter Thwaites who brings the season magically to life with his depictions of fruits, foliage and fungi. Alan Titchmarsh visited the nerine collection in 2009 and said that nothing had prepared him for such a spectacle in all his years of gardening.
Outside, the Festival of Autumn Colour will get under way as Exbury’s maples, dogwoods, liquidambers and many other trees and shrubs explode into a haze of crimson, orange, yellow and deep purple. The Gardens are regularly listed amongst the “Top 10 places to see autumn colour” by Visit England, and the spectacle is not to be missed. A special autumn trail for visitors will guide visitors to the best of the colour in Yard Wood, whilst ‘A Guide to the Trees of Exbury’ written by Exbury Head Gardener John Anderson offers an authoritative look at trees most associated with the autumn season.
John said: “We’ve been planting more trees for late colour and are National Collection holder for Nyssa and Oxydendrum, two of the most colourful autumn trees. Exbury covers a huge area, so we can plant a lot of trees and shrubs for a massed show. But even if you have a small garden you can come and get ideas for what looks really good – our autumn trail highlights trees, shrubs and berries suitable for gardens of all sizes. With the very cold start to the 2013 season followed by an extended dry summer autumn is an unknown quantity this year but at Exbury you can be assured of spectacle.”
John is hosting an RHS New Forest Breakfast Walk on Sat 19 October when he will be signing copies of ‘A Guide to the Trees of Exbury’, whilst Fungi Forager John Wright is leading a Fungi Foray break (combined with a function at nearby Hotel TerraVina) on Thursday 17 October.
The Exbury Gardens Steam Railway will be running throughout the Festival of Autumn Colour event, giving the opportunity for passengers to enjoy the spectacular sights with their feet up.