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.
Our gardens are looking rather tired after the long and very hot summer. Limited resources meant that we were unable to keep everything watered and we chose to focus on the parterre and newly planted trees in the parkland. We hope you understand.
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’re leaving 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, blue monkshood and 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 intense foliage colour to this part of the garden and 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 around the edge 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've been potting on 7280 plug plants - pop back next year to see the display.
The little thatched summerhouse next to the Orangery tea-room has undergone restoration work, funded partly by the proceeds of raffle tickets bought by our kind visitors in previous years.
Mary Elizabeth had the summerhouse built for her grandchildren and it was based on one that she remembered from her childhood in Wales. It's too fragile to open regularly to visitors but our volunteer photographer shows you more 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.
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.