Autumn colours in the garden

Planting the commemmorative tree in the lawn in front of the house

Colour in the garden lasts well into the autumn, with Salvias giving a colourful display and the South African bed packed full of later flowering plants. Watching the trees change colour across the arboretum and garden make this a very special time of year to visit.

Head Gardener Stephen Herrington explains more about the commemorative tree
Head Gardener Stephen Herrington explains more about the commemorative tree

Commemorative tree

On a unseasonably warm 16th October we planted a commemorative Monkey Puzzle tree to mark the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm. With a tropical wind blowing in the remnants of storm Ophelia from the west, Philip Holmes, a member of the garden team back in 1987, planted a replacement tree for one that was felled on the same spot during the Great Storm. 

Back in 1987 it was the Countess of Rosse, who lived at Nymans, who planted the first commemorative tree, but this was sadly lost some years ago. We felt that the 30th anniversary of the storm would be the most fitting occasion on which to replant a monkey puzzle tree and who better to do this than a member of the team who'd been involved in the mammoth clear up thirty years ago to the day.  A tree of this kind has stood on this spot since Nymans was bought by Ludwig Messel back in 1890 so we're delighted to have a replacement.  

Download a map of the garden & woodland before you visit:

Map of the garden & woods (PDF / 3.283203125MB) download

Chilean Guava in the Wall Garden at Nymans
Chilean Guava in the Wall Garden at Nymans

Queen Victoria's favourite fruit?

Pictured above are the edible fruits of Chilean Guava (Ugni molinae) which has a very sweet perfume that permeates the surrounding air. Tasting as good as they smell, this was apparently Queen Victoria’s favourite fruit.

This week in the garden:

This week the garden team are continuing apace with hedge cutting, leaf collecting, grinding out tree stumps, carrying out annual tree inspections and planting crocus bulbs (among other things).

Elegant and bright - red salvias
Red salvias

Salvia Collection

Nymans is a garden of inspiration and experimentation so, in keeping with this tradition, we have designed and planted an exciting new Salvia border with around 48 different cultivars and species near our rose garden.

The colour and plant combinations last long into the season you ‘ll even see some species such as Salvia leucantha, Salvia elegans and Salvia uliginosa flowering well into November.

Salvias not only look good on their own but sit well with a range of plants such as Dahlias, Penstemon, grasses and Phygelius. Salvias are easily propagated and can be grown in an array of places from pots to long herbaceous borders.    

Autumnal tints across the arboretum
The arboretum at Nymans


This time of year you’lll be wowed by the spectacular display that the trees provide in the form of autumnal colour in the arboretum.

The Messel family started planting this part of the garden in the 1890s and you can still see some of these trees today. Autumn colour is provided by Quercus rubra, Liquidamber and Taxodium distichum.

A good tree for providing autumn colour in a small garden is Stewartia. One tree of notable interest you may spot on the way to the woods is Quercus suber the cork oak; this particular tree was planted in 1906, and the species is now endangered in its Southern Europe homeland. 

Colourful dahlias last well into autumn
Colourful dahlias last well into autumn

Autumn Colour

You might think that when it comes to autumn the only colours in the garden are the golds and burnt oranges of the trees. But Nymans is full of exciting and interesting plants still in flower into the cooler darker days. You will find the purple and blues of Asters complimenting the yellows and reds of Dahlias on the summer borders, the exotic flowers and shapes of the Chilean collection in the wall garden with the vibrant bark of Luma apiculata and the sweet smelling flowers of Eucryphia moorei  always a big draw.

Moving through the garden, catch a glimpse of the sunk garden with Gaura lindheimeri, bronze fennel and the floating flowers of Pennisetum. As you cross the lawn spot the vibrant electric blue of Hydrangea macrophylla ‘General Viscomtesse de Vibraye’. Finally the South African Hesperantha coccinea can be seen in the rock garden along with the daisy flowers of Erigeron karvinskianus.

Our top picks this autumn:

  • Heather garden
  • Camellias
  • Autumn colour in the arboretum
  • Pinetum
  • Rock Garden
  • Winter walk
  • Summer borders (still going strong)