Early autumn in the garden at Saltram

Martin Stott, Head Gardener Martin Stott Head Gardener
The orangery set behind green grass and autumn leaves

At Saltram we have to wait a while until we get washes of rusty colour in the garden, but when it does arrive its worth the wait. Here are some of my highlights and favourite parts about early autumn in the garden.

Early autumn here tends to be more of an extension of summer, with many plants remaining green and fresh and those that flower in late summer still doing well. Cyclamen arrive to brighten up Lime Avenue which signals there is a change in season.

Cycylamen bloom at Saltram
Saltram house behind a grouping of Cyclamen
Cycylamen bloom at Saltram

The garden is also home to a wealth of tropical plants that you rarely see in gardens in England. Many of these soak up everything our summer has to offer before getting enough energy to start flowering, but by then winter is beginning to set in. Once in a while something manages to put on an unexpected tropical display that really clashes with the rest of the garden shutting down for the winter which is really lovely.

The Sweet Chesnut tree outside the Orangery
See the colours changing on the trees
The Sweet Chesnut tree outside the Orangery

The colour change that so famously happens to the leaves during autumn is caused by the arrival of colder night time temperatures. Plants respond to the cold by shutting off the food supply to their leaves and it is this that creates the wealth of rich and beautiful colours. A few days of cold, still weather is still needed at Saltram before we see a real change.

Rusty red leaves in the garden
Red rusty leaves frame the white Orangery
Rusty red leaves in the garden

Quite often, leaves get blown off before they’ve really begun to change colour. That being said, the garden is deliberately surrounded by shelter belts of evergreen trees and shrubs that can cope with the wind, and they help to protect the core of the garden. This means that a lot of our plants do keep their leaves long enough to change colour before they drop, although this doesn’t tend to happen until late October/November time, when trees upcountry are already all but bare.

Lime Avenue in Autumn
A long line of trees in colours of yellow and gold
Lime Avenue in Autumn