Monday 12 October

Autumn colours surrounding the lakes at Sheffield Park

Reds, golds, purples and greens around each corner, all reflected back in our shimmering lakes - this can only mean one thing - autumn is well and truly here.


Top tips and jobs to do in the garden this autumn
by Flic Archer, Garden and Outdoors Manager

Our garden staff are hard at work during this popular time making sure that the estate looks it's very best. This week our expert gardener shares her top tips for your garden at home to help you reap the rewards of nature, this autumn and beyond. 

 

Gardening at Sheffield Park
Volunteers pushing a wheelbarrow
Gardening at Sheffield Park

Weeding 
At this time of year the soil is nice and workable without being too soggy or too dry. Here at Sheffield Park the horticultural team have been working their way around the garden, weeding around the base of our young trees in preparation for mulching.

Mulching 
Mulching is a great way to suppress weeds and retain moisture, a thick layer is recommended to reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation. Mulches should be applied when the soil is moist but not frozen, making early to mid-autumn the perfect time to make a start. You can even take steps to make your own in preparation for following years.

Leafmould 
This can be made at home on a small scale by collecting moist leaves in a bin liner, or even better by re-using an old compost sack. Simply pierce the bag to make a few small holes and tie the top. For a top quality leafmould this should ideally be left for a couple of years. Here at Sheffield Park we mulch out under some of our larger groups of trees with leaf litter and allow it to break down naturally. 

Tree planting 
Autumn provides optimal conditions to get a young tree off to a good start. Planting bareroot is advisable as it allows trees to develop naturally, without the restrictions of a container. Trees planted in this manner tend to be more successful in the long term and are less prone to pests and diseases - partly because they aren't grown in composts which may harbour them. What is more, they require less irrigation and no plastic pots. If that hasn’t sold bareroot planting to you yet then it is cheaper too!  At Sheffield Park wherever possible we plant bareroot. 

Top sights around Sheffield Park this week

The gardens are a kaleidoscope of colour at this time of year so wherever you find yourself in the estate the view is going to delight. But here are a few of our favourites...


The Carya cordiformis (Bitternut hickory) by reception is radiating a golden glow right now. Not only does this beautiful tree provide the perfect welcome to what awaits in the garden, but it also is a sure-fire sign that autumn is well and truly here. 

The golden autumn Carya cordiformis at Sheffield Park
The golden autumn Carya cordiformis at Sheffield Park
The golden autumn Carya cordiformis at Sheffield Park


Our renowned Nyssa sylvatica are looking lovely at the moment. For the full effect head up towards Flint Road and look out for the bright red skirt of the Nyssa sylvatica 'Isabella Grace'. The Nyssa sylvatica 'Sheffield Park' won't be far behind and they are already displaying a dappled red and green effect. 

Autumn isn't autumn without an acer - and they are still looking stunning. Find them dotted all around the gardens. 

Autumn sunlight shining through an Acer tree at Sheffield Park
Autumn sunlight shining through an Acer tree at Sheffield Park
Autumn sunlight shining through an Acer tree at Sheffield Park


Don't miss the opportunity to take a stroll along Birch Grove and enjoy the peeling bark and stunning colours. 

Our many oak (Quercus) species are putting on a classic autumn display. They are prominent all around the gardens so are hard to miss. Some of the best at this time of year are Quercus coccinea and Quercus rubra.

The Liquidambar are starting to turn and are looking wonderful. 

Take time to enjoy the Taxodium distichum (swamp cypress) to the north of Ten Foot Pond. Of particular interest are their pneumatophores (or knees as they are often known) which are evident when these trees grow near water or in swampy conditions.

Taxodium distichum in autumn reaching down to the water's edge at Sheffield Park
Taxodium distichum in autumn reaching down to the water's edge at Sheffield Park
Taxodium distichum in autumn reaching down to the water's edge at Sheffield Park


And there is more - the Euonymus are a stunning deep red shade; the Fothergilla are still looking splendid; the rowan and holly berries are a bold and beautiful scarlet; the heart shaped leaves of the Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura or candyfloss) trees near Nyssa Grove are looking - and smelling - lovely; and the Parrotia persica (Persian ironwood) is wreathed in a majestic red. 

The beautiful Colchicum (Autumn Crocus)
Colchicum (Autumn Crocus) at Sheffield Park
The beautiful Colchicum (Autumn Crocus)

Whilst our trees may steal the limelight in autumn, there is plenty to see on a smaller scale. One of the prettiest sights is the Colchicum or Autumn Crocus. Also known as 'Naked Ladies', this is a genus of flowering plants containing around sixty species of perennial plants which grow from corms. Although they look like crocuses, Colchicum belong to the lily family not the iris family to which the crocus belongs. Colchicums have six stamens, while the crocus has only three.