Gardens and parks in Kent

From bundle trees at Scotney to the centuries-old sweet chestnut at Ightham Mote, trees across our gardens and parkland glow vibrant orange, red and gold, with scented displays and delicious crops come autumn.

Elsewhere, shimmery heather, azaeleas and bright fungi come together to create a seasonal showstopper.

Every visit supports our ambition to plant more than 160 hectares (395 acres) of trees at our places in the South East this autumn and winter - that's the size of nearly 225 full-size football pitches.

Sandham Autumn colour - side view

Places in the South East where you need to book 

Some of our places we care for in the South East of England will be opening with guided tours, so you’ll need to pre-book before your visit. These tours will be led by expert volunteers and will show the places in a new light. You may also need to book in advance at some other larger places, where visitor numbers need to be carefully managed for practical reasons.

Brilliant orange, red and yellow trees reflect into the Chartwell lake under blue skies in autumn

Chartwell 

Fiery autumn borders and woodland surround the home of Sir Winston Churchill. For the best view, Area Ranger Fraser suggests nearby Toys Hill and its large collection of beech trees - known as a beech hanger. The lakes on the estate reflect majestic trees, including the 170 year old Japanese cedar above the Golden Orfe ponds. Seasonal crops from runner beans to root vegetables fill the kitchen garden. Stop by the orchard and help collect apples for juicing. Don't miss the show-stopping pumpkin and squash display.

Down by the boathouse at Scotney Castle, Kent

Scotney Castle 

Reflections in the old castle moat frame the magnificent medieval ruin. Look left as you head downhill, for gaps in the golden canopies opening up views of the bridge. By the ice house, spot the large beech believed to be a ‘bundle tree’ - where several young trees interweave to form larger stately trees. For truly spectacular autumn colour, Head Gardener Natan Cointet recommends the liquidambar styraciflua tree by the boathouse. The 100-year-old purple cut-leaved Japanese Maples, below the Bastion, are an autumn staple that people return for year after year too.

Visitors in the distance at Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote 

Maple trees, tulip trees, the Indian Bean Tree and more provide splashes of colour throughout the gardens. Euonymus shrubs also put on a great show. In the orchard, wander by historic apple varieties. Head Gardener Richard Burton says, “we have three trees classed as significant due to their age or size. The 300 to 400 year-old sweet chestnut is intriguingly gnarly around its 700cm girth. The evergreen Scots Pine, by the formal garden, provides structure and shelter through the colder months. The London Plane by the south lake is identifiable by its large palmate leaves that yellow and brown through the season.

Sissinghurst in Autumn

Sissinghurst Castle Garden 

The cottage garden continues to throw out fiery reds and yellows, while the trees in the orchard are covered in fruit. Venture out to Park Field to look through large Oaks lighting up the view back toward the tower. Further into the estate woodland, over 1,000 trees knit a canopy of yellows, browns and reds, casting an autumnal glow and many hanging low with fruit. Back in the vegetable garden, the team is busy harvesting to the onsite Granary restaurant's orders each morning – here it’s about food metres, not miles. Look out for surplus produce in the plant shop.

Japanese maple in autumn at Emmetts Garden, a National Trust property in Kent

Emmetts Garden 

The regal purple berries of the prickly heath bush (gaultheria mucronate) contrast the glowing red, orange and yellow of the hardy exotic trees and shrubs. Of the exotic collection, Gardener Alan suggests looking out for the bright red winged spindle and golden leaves on the Japanese maple. For panoramic views, the estate walk through the arboretum shows off the best of the season's colour. For something a little different, keep eyes to the ground for enchanting fungi.

Apple in the orchard

Smallhythe Place 

There's a bumper harvest of cherries, apples and cobnuts in the nuttery. A peaceful wander round this hidden Kentish gem brings a chance to enjoy the last of the season's rays.

A path through the garden at Stoneacre

Stoneacre 

Distinct 'rooms' in the front garden showcase a variety of colours. Gentle yellows of the 100-year old Ginkgo biloba tree watch over borders filled with purples, reds and oranges. An old orchard and meadow at the back have a wilder, more unkempt feel.