Summer is over in London – and what a Summer it was! But there is no point getting down about it because the perks of a glorious Summer range further afield than in-the-moment. A bright and sunny Summer will mean beautiful colour in the Autumn months, with foliage that makes London well-worth the visit.
The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew are some of the most impressive gardens to visit worldwide. A tree lover’s trip to London is incomplete without a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage site, which is home to more than 50,000 living plants. The autumnal oranges and yellows will be visible throughout the garden, from the Rock Garden, which contains plants from six mountainous regions around the world, to the exhibitions on offer. However, the most mesmerizing part of the gardens during this time will be the arboretum, which takes up a whopping two-thirds of the botanical gardens. Describable in layman’s terms as a sort of tree museum, an arboretum usually has an excellent display of fall foliage, but the Kew Arboretum is particularly special, home to a collection of 14,000 trees and a number of paths to meander along. So, basically, that is 14,000 individual opportunities to marvel at the stunning colours and nature’s seasonal transformation on over 2000 tree species and ancient variations.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Those with an interest in botany, or even just an appreciation for beautiful flowers and natural wonder, will adore Chelsea Physic Garden – so check out London hotel deals and visit the gardens this Autumn. It was established by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1673, as the Apothecaries’ Garden in London, to grow medicinal plants. Now, it is a botanical garden steeped in history and teeming with trees, flowers and plants that pay a startlingly beautiful tribute to the changing season. Workshops are available in the garden’s classrooms, where you can learn everything from the parts of the garden not open to the public, as well as tree identification and which ones to keep an eye on for their fall-foliage. Noteworthy trees to visit in the garden during the season are the Nyssa sylvatica tree that will be turning a brilliant red-orange and yellow, as well as the Ginkgo biloba trees, whose fan-shaped leaves have been an icon of horticulture for centuries.
Hyde Park is a go-to destination in London for all activities and seasons. Whether it is a concert in the park, a swim in the lido or a coffee at the numerous cafes, there is something for everyone. As the largest park in London, and Grade I-listed, it should come as no surprise that the park is an excellent place to enjoy the changing leaves as the season changes. Walking even for half an hour through a portion of the 142 hectares of green space in Hyde Park will give you the chance to enjoy bright oranges and reds, fallen fall leaves and beautiful plants flourishing. Visit The Rose Garden in the south-east corner of the park to really experience, smell and enjoy the season in all its natural glory. The park is only a short distance from restaurants near Paddington, meaning you can enjoy a hearty lunch after a lengthy walk.
Hampstead Heath Woods
Hampstead Heath is an ancient heath in London and one of the city’s favourite green spaces. Within the heath are two areas of woodlands, North Wood and Ken Wood, which make up the 16.6 hectares of the Hampstead Heath Woods. The area is a site of Special Scientific Interest. This is the perfect spot to take a leisurely Autumnal walk, enjoying the colours changing on this grand canopy of leafy trees that are older than a lot of London itself. The main trees are sessile oak and beech, which are notoriously excellent colour-changers with their wide and beautiful leaves. Some of the trees are so old in this area that they are included in the Museum of Walking’s veteran tree walk. When walking under the sky of brightly coloured leaves and dappled light, you will feel like you are really making the most of the fall foliage in London – though from within that leafy archway, you hardly feel like you are in this busy city at all.
Walking around the impressive, expansive Richmond Park during the Autumn months means bright orange and red canopies overhead, crunching leaves underfoot and the occasional herd of deer, with rutting season starting as early as September some years. Richmond Park is the second largest Royal Park of London after Hyde Park, though walking through you feel as if it is the biggest you have ever seen amidst the massive trees and 2360 acres of land. Of all the Royal Parks, the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park shows off particularly beautiful leaves in this 40-acre woodland garden. Think buttery yellow leaves alongside fiery hues, with a crisp but fresh breeze and the Autumn light shining through the gaps in the trees.
Regent’s Park and Canal
Regent’s Park is dotted with some of London’s finest trees, including numerous Plane trees, which account for half of London’s tree population (which tallies at around eight million overall, so that is nothing to sneeze at!) Whether it is the trees surrounding the Boating Lake that you are interested in, or rather those lining the pathway alongside the London Zoo, there is no shortage of botanical bounty, especially during the Autumn months. Another incredible fall-feature of this area is the Regent’s Canal, which is lined with countless trees that turn orange and red hues, transforming the water into a bright mirage of light and colour.
Yes, the end of Summer can be disappointing, but simply remembering that this means the start of Autumn can mean a total attitude transformation. No transformation is quite as breathtaking as that of the fall foliage that is visible throughout London, provided you know where to make the most of it. So put on some sturdy walking shoes and get exploring.