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The best Hertfordshire gardens to visit during Autumn

St Albans Park (c) John Miller
St Albans Park (c) John Miller

Leaf peepers, our time has arrived. Grab your phone, get snapping and prepare to liven up your Instagram grid with a wash of orange, red and gold. The boots are ready for walking, and Hertfordshire’s gardens are ready for their close-up as we prepare to share the best gardens, grounds (and one or two pubs) to enjoy the glory of autumn in our beautiful, rural escape.

Scarves at the ready? Big coats dusted down? Then we’ll begin...

Great British Life: Deer on the Ashridge EstateDeer on the Ashridge Estate (Image: National Trust Images/Paul Harris)

Ashridge House

These gardens are always top of our hitlist in autumn. All 190 acres of them! Bring along your four-legged friend and enjoy spectacular views in the formal gardens, not to mention some wonderful spots to sit and catch those autumn rays. Our top recommendations this season are the spectacular views in Lazell Garden and the gorgeous hues to be found in Liquidamber Avenue – eyes peeled for a mushroom or two beneath the auburn canopy. For hot chocolate, cake or lunch, pop into the Bakehouse coffee shop and cosy up, or take your goodies out into the courtyard for those warmer days.

Great British Life: Mill Green (c) Visit HertsMill Green (c) Visit Herts

Mill Green Mill and Museum

An 18th century water mill beside the River Lea in a spot that has a 1000-year milling history – honestly, you’d be hard-pushed to find a more chocolate box-worthy location. A visit to the museum is a must, but because we’re in search of that gorgeous fall fix, we’ll head straight to the gardens, a traditional cottage garden that truly makes the most of its pretty riverside setting. And because autumn generally calls for cake, we recommend popping into the Miller’s Kitchen for soup, cakes, or even a cream tea, with scones made from flour milled right on site. What could be better on a crisp autumn day?

Great British Life: Norton Common (c) Christian TrampenauNorton Common (c) Christian Trampenau

Norton Common

As one of our garden cities, is it any wonder Letchworth has made it to our list of top garden go-tos this autumn? Norton Common Local Nature Reserve is a green (or sometimes scarlet) oasis resting in the heart of the city. Here you’ll find plenty of wildlife, two bowling greens, and a picnic area that’s perfect for those bright days when you can enjoy the views accompanied by a cup of coffee. Bring along the kids and let them go wild in the play area or do some leaf-crunching with your pooch in this gorgeous retreat from the hustle and bustle.

Great British Life: View of 'Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae' (LH580), Perry Green (c) Jonty WildeView of 'Three Piece Sculpture: Vertebrae' (LH580), Perry Green (c) Jonty Wilde

Henry Moore Studios and Gardens

Talk about picture-perfect, our next stop is set within the rolling countryside of Perry Green in Much Hadham. It was here that artist Henry Moore designed and created his iconic sculptures, with his studios and famous works still to be discovered here today. With bronze sculptures across the grounds, falling leaves are the perfect complement to the landscape at Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, so pay a visit before the close of the season at the end of October. Just remember to take your camera as it's sure to be breathtaking.

Great British Life: Myddelton House Gardens (c) Myddelton House GardensMyddelton House Gardens (c) Myddelton House Gardens

Myddelton House Gardens

Once home to famous botanist, E A Bowles, this hidden gem has been restored to reflect his life and times at Myddelton House. The New River, Alpine Meadow and the rescued Market Cross from Enfield can all be found amongst the gardens, which are even home to part of Old London Bridge! Wander the bountiful Kitchen Garden, discover the Pond Terrace, and take in the final resting place of E A Bowles, the Rock Garden. In amongst the incredible artefacts, you’ll of course be treated to a beautiful display of autumn colour, care of the breath-taking exotic plants found throughout the gardens.

Great British Life: Knebworth (c) Visit HertsKnebworth (c) Visit Herts

Knebworth House and Gardens Half Marathon and 10K

Now, bear with us, but we’re all about finding new ways to experience Hertfordshire’s dramatic landscapes and gardens, so we reckon an autumn run has got to be one of the more memorable ways to appreciate Knebworth’s gardens and surrounding countryside. Set for 5th November, you’ve got a few months to train for this one, so whether you fancy trying your hand (feet) at the 10K, or stepping up for the Half Marathon, Knebworth’s gardens will be putting on a vibrant show to help distract you from the miles. And let’s face it, if you’re going to run a race, why not do it in a picture-perfect setting?

Cheslyn Gardens

They call it Watford's best kept secret, but one afternoon in these beautiful gardens and you'll be wanting to share this spot far and wide. Cheslyn House and Gardens is one of Watford's beautiful Green Flag Award Winners, with 3.5 acres of grounds to spread out in, including a woodland garden, pond, fernery and landscaped gardens. Wander the grounds and you may just spy some exotic plants, these have been collected by architect Henry Colbeck and wife Daisy as they travelled the world.

Oughtonhead Common

Oughtonhead Local Nature Reserve in Hitchin is a twitcher’s paradise in autumn. Hedgerows packed with sloes and berries are the ultimate find for migrating birds, so keep your eyes open and your binoculars handy for redwings and fieldfares! With footpaths following the River Oughton, this is one of our favourite spots to head when the leaves start to tumble, and we love catching sight of the Longhorn Cattle grazing in the meadow (and so will your Instagram grid).

Great British Life: The Alford Arms (c) The Alford ArmsThe Alford Arms (c) The Alford Arms

Alford Arms

We promised you pubs and we’re delivering pubs, because what’s an autumn walk without a cosy spot to retreat to for a tipple or two? With its gorgeous setting in a wooded valley on the edge of the Chilterns, the Alford Arms is the perfect place for a stop off if you just finished a lengthy walk or fancy a getaway in the British countryside. Priding itself on fresh seasonal ingredients and local beers from the likes of Tring Brewery, it’s a true favourite in the area, and we can certainly recommend the heated terrace as a spot to soak up that glorious autumn colour.

Great British Life: St Albans Park (c) John MillerSt Albans Park (c) John Miller

St Albans

While we all know St Albans wows all year round, its surroundings really come to life in the autumn. Take a stroll through the grounds of St Albans Cathedral and capture vibrant red leaves set against the backdrop of the magnificent Abbey. Or head to Verulamium Park where you'll be treated to a landscape that is the epitome of autumn colour. And because, we’d never stray too far away from tea and cake at this time of year, we recommend popping into Abbot’s Kitchen for a bite.

Gotha Gardens at Pembroke Farm

Gotha Gardens at Pembroke Farm is another hidden gem on our list. This country house garden boasts a wildlife walk, topiary garden, rose gardens, woodland garden and tea lawn, not to mention the home of an Artisanal Candlery (we feel some cosy candle-lit evenings coming on). While many of the gardens on our list have been established for centuries, this special spot began in 1990, created from an arable field, and starting as a simple woodland walk. Today, the area is still a popular spot for pollinators and wildlife, helping bring these beautiful formal gardens to life.

Great British Life: Berkhamsted (c) Visit HertsBerkhamsted (c) Visit Herts

Canal Fields

We know you’ll have seen the spot on our Instagram, if you follow us (and if you don’t, come and join us), as it happens to be one of those many Hertfordshire locations that absolutely shines whatever the weather and whatever the season. That being said, we love it even more during big coat season, when the lush tree-lined pathways beside the Grand Union Canal don their ruby red leaves. The Millenium Garden promises a haven of biodiversity and sustainability, attracting a wide range of wildlife throughout the year.

Great British Life: Hanbury Manor (c) Hanbury Hotel & Country ClubHanbury Manor (c) Hanbury Hotel & Country Club

Hanbury Manor

Cooler weather means booking an autumn break, so why not ensure that getaway accommodation comes with a side of magnificent views? Hanbury Manor comes complete with the roaring fires and panelled snugs you’d expect from a Jacobean manor house hotel, while the grounds offer big skies over 22 acres of landscaped grounds, and a beautiful mix of oranges and reds. Be sure to pop by and wander, finished off by an afternoon tea by the fire...

Great British Life: Hatfield Park (c) Hatfield ParkHatfield Park (c) Hatfield Park

Hatfield Park

We know you don’t need us to tell you about this one; beautiful formal gardens, a magnificent old manor house, deer park and unlimited opportunities for autumnal views, so instead we’ll talk about the Fireworks Champions event on 16th September that’s set to bring even more colour to this glorious landscape! Four firework displays will be gracing the skies over Hatfield Park, as three of the UK’s best firework companies compete with displays set to music, before rounding off the evening with a huge finale! As the only event of its type in the UK, this is set to be one fantastic way to start the new season with a bang.

The Pop-Up Farm

This one screams of autumn, and it’s a family favourite too! Every year the Pop-Up Farm becomes the epitome of all things autumn, with pumpkin picking in the Hertfordshire countryside. Grab a wheelbarrow, select your perfect squash or pumpkin, and prepare to take photos-a-plenty at this delightful patch. Whether you’re on the lookout for the best of the best for carving, or fancy whipping up a soup, this is one of our top spots for embracing the oranges of autumn.


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