Stourhead Revisited: The Beauty of Autumn Colour

Last year we visited Stourhead, Wiltshire, one of the best landscape gardens in the country.  It was so beautiful we couldn’t resist returning again this year. 

There are over 600 species of trees and shrubs in the landscape gardens assuring a fantastic long-lived autumn display.  The expectation was for a good spectacle of autumn colour this year.  The wet summer helped the trees to produce large numbers of leaves whilst the spell of warmer weather later in the year allowed trees to increase their sugar levels.
We were not disappointed.  We visited slightly later than last year and some trees which had been in full autumn colour had already lost their leaves.  The carpeting of the ground was prefect though.  Other foliage, not in full colour last year was truly stunning.
If you read last week’s post you will know that I saw autumn colours at Wisley with a group of gardening buddies.  This visit turned out slightly different.  It was just me and my seven year old who made the trip.  The gardens are a fantastic space for children.  They have plenty of space to run around, points of interest, a grotto and are great for hide and seek. 
The beauty of the gardens make it almost compulsory to take photographs.  In fact the day we were there nearly everyone was busy with their cameras.  However, of course, I should have realised that it’s not just adults who want to take shots – 7 year olds are pretty keen as well.  So note to self, if I want sole use of my camera then I need to make sure that my son remembers to bring his. 
I was pretty pleased with the photo of the acer palmatum at the beginning of this post. As we walked away from the tree I noted there was possibly an even better shot from amongst some very ancient rhododendrons.  Click went my camera, thump went my son as he slipped of the branch of the rhododendron he had been climbing.  Silence for a very long couple of seconds and then a tremendous yell.  He had bumped his head and slightly hurt his hand, but thank goodness in the main was fine.
I am a strong proponent of children tree climbing.  However Stourhead with its many ancient specimens is not the location to practise this skill.  The thick branches of the rhododendron were also mossy, very slippery and clearly unsuitable for trainers.  My autumn colour visit to Wisley had been the perfect combination, today I had not achieved that.  But I had learnt a lesson about cameras, 7 year olds and trees not mixing. 
I have no doubt we will be visiting Stourhead again.  And when we do it will be ‘remember that time you fell off a tree’- the memory of the glorious autumn colours will be relegated to second.

If you would like to take a look at last year’s post here it is.

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