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Westonbirt Arboretum
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The best autumnal gardens near London

Embrace the change in season with these five gorgeous gardens within day-tripping distance of London

By Grace Allen
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Green spaces in London are slowly turning golden as the seasons change; all the more reason to venture outdoors. There are plenty of pretty local parks, lovely walks and bike routes to enjoy in the city centre, but if time allows, it pays to make a day trip to one of these brilliant autumnal gardens near London.

From vast arboretums to urban botanical gardens with ‘gin borders’, here here are five gorgeous gardens guaranteed to get you in the mood for leaf crunching and conker smashing this autumn. 

RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from London

The best autumnal gardens near London

West Dean Gardens, Sussex

Autumn is spectacular at West Dean Gardens. Wander around walled fruit orchards, an Edwardian pergola and arboretum, or duck into one of the Victorian glasshouses. Foodies should hit up the café for hearty dishes made from home-grown veg.  Menus change according to the seasons, but expect artisan charcuterie and Sussex cheese sharing boards all year round. Pre-book tickets before you visit. 

Get there: one hour 30 minutes by train from London Victoria to Chichester, then 20 minutes by bus.

Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxfordshire

Need another reason to take a day trip into Oxford’s beautiful city centre? We’ve got a doozy – this exquisite botanic garden, which happens to be the oldest in the country and home to more than 6,000 types of plant. Negroni fans should sniff out the ‘gin border’, a bed full of the botanicals used to flavour mother’s ruin. There’s also usually a packed events calendar, from alfresco yoga to (grinches, avert your eyes now) Christmas wreath workshops with a botanical twist. Check out the garden’s bloomin’ marvellous autumn borders, which peak in September and October. Pre-book your tickets before you visit. 

Get there: one hour by train from Paddington to Oxford, then 15 minutes by bus. 

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Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

Go in autumn, and you’ll catch Audley End House at its most beautiful, as the garden’s many trees turn tawny shades of red.  Spot the howard oak – one of two in the world – and mosey through the kitchen garden. This two-and-a-half acre allotment is farmed organically, and beds are bursting with pumpkins, and sprouting broccoli, while fruit trees include 120 varieties of apples, and around 50 pear and plum varieties. When you’re there, don’t forget to visit to the stable yard, where you can meet the resident horses. Pre-book tickets before you visit. 

Get there: 53 minutes by train from Liverpool St to Audley End, then ten minutes by bus; two hours from London by car.

Marks Hall Garden and Arboretum, Essex

At Marks Hall Garden and Arboretum you’ll find everything you could possibly want from a bracing autumnal walk: misty meadows, dense woodland and sparkling ornamental lakes – bordered with blood-red dogwood, which are especially striking this season. Those in proud possession of a log burner can even stock up on firewood before leaving.

Get there: one hour 30 minutes from London
by car. 

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Rousham Gardens, Oxfordshire

Green-fingered guru Monty Don raves about this garden, and we can totally see why. The grounds of the seventeenth-century Rousham House are full of fruit trees laden with ripe apples, pears and figs. Elsewhere in the William Kent-designed garden you’ll find kaleidoscopic borders, a riverside trail and an impressive vegetable patch. Rousham is also relatively uncommercialised, with no gift shop or café; bad news for anyone too extra to pack their own picnic, good news for anyone looking for unspoilt nature.

Get there: one hour by train from London Marylebone to Oxford Parkway, then 25 minutes by bus; one hour 50 minutes from London by car. 

More autumnal adventures?

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