Long-lasting colour in Charlecote's autumn gardens
Take a stroll around Charlecote's gardens and find inspiration for late interest in your own garden or just take a seat and enjoy autumn's final burst of colour.
This article was prepared before the coronavirus pandemic and does not reflect the current offer. Most areas of our gardens are currently closed to comply with social-distancing advice.
While you enjoy the gardens that Mary Elizabeth Lucy loved so dearly in Victorian times you’ll find our gardeners – staff and volunteers – at work all year round, whatever the weather. They’ll tell you more if you want to chat, or just take a seat and enjoy the results of all their hard work.
In autumn you’ll find us weeding most days (of course!), perched on a cherry picker to prune the yew trees and wisteria in Green Court, clearing the parterre and planting out all the spring bedding, as well as tidying lots and lots of fallen leaves as the season progresses.
It looks a little tatty, but we leave a lot of the dead seedheads on the plants in the borders – birds such as goldfinches will love the seeds, and blue tits will find insects hiding in the little crevices.
While autumn foliage brings beautiful colours to the park and gardens, there are more subtle delights in two of our favourite plants – late-flowering clematis on tricky north walls. There’s starry Clematis jouiniana and the delicate yellow bells of Clematis rehderiana. Their delicate flowers make them easy to miss, but the bees always find them.
Along the long border, Tetrapanax rex makes a bold statement with its huge leaves – our very own T Rex – and yellow rudbeckia, spidery pink and white cleome, delightful dahlias and cosmos take colour and interest through to the end of October.
Now known as the woodland garden, Mary Elizabeth’s Wilderness flourishes beyond the long border. Her Victorian visitors – like our visitors today - would have been entranced by rare and unusual shade-loving plants and ferns in this tranquil haven. Autumn brings delicate pink anemone japonica flowers and then intense foliage colour to this part of the garden and later the delightful scent of mahonia drifts through the pathways.
Mary Elizabeth’s presence still influences the gardens. Her formal riverside parterre was carefully reinstated twenty years ago and twice a year our gardeners skilfully co-ordinate a new planting plan and organise the back-breaking planting of thousands of bedding plants.
Don't lose sight of the planting at the back of the parterre - vibrant blue ceratostigma willmottianum and ceratostigma plumbaginoides are real autumn highlights.
Gardener Matt and his volunteer team have planned a glorious scheme for next spring based on bedding such as scented wallflowers and pretty violas. They'll be planting out 7280 plug plants in mid October - pop back next year to see the display.
The little thatched summerhouse next to the Orangery is too fragile for us to allow entry to visitors.
However, many visitors ask about the origins of this delightful little building (which Mary Elizabeth had built as a playhouse for her grandchildren) so our volunteer photographer takes a look inside here...
You can see how the Lucy family's influence still prevails in the gardens today with the topiary in Green Court. The present baronet, Sir Edmund Fairfax-Lucy created the formal design based on 3-dimensional mathematical relationships between the house, the gatehouse and this lawned forecourt.
Clerondendrum bungeii always attracts attention - from visitors and from bees and butterflies - by the Turret door.
Apples and pears ripen on pleached fruit trees throughout autumn and look out for the exotic but hardy sugar-pink nerines flowering at the base of the wall as autumn fades to winter.