Spend time with trees this autumn with the National Trust in Surrey and Sussex

Trees are the anchor of the natural world. Solid and dependable, yet never the same, they represent the stoic support so many have found in nature through these uncertain times.

In autumn, the changing colours of trees across Surrey and Sussex send the seasonal barometer to boiling point. Follow the way-marked routes at Winkworth Arboretum and Sheffield Park and Garden to see canopies aflame with colour, reflected in the lakes, against bright blue autumn skies.

The gentle golds and reds of autumn trees filter through our gardens, tickling the senses. Walk along paths lined with acers at Nymans and Standen, with leaves of of red, pink and orange.

Wander through wavy golden grassland at Petworth and Hatchlands and see the majestic parkland trees turn warm shades of ochre and russet.

In our orchards apple and pear trees hang low with fruit, evoking the fresh tastes of family tables gone by at Polesden Lacey and Standen.

While if it’s the open countryside you’re craving this autumn, the Golden Valley walk at the Devil’s Punch Bowl is the place for you.

Or come along to one of our top events this autumn – the Wey River Festival in Guildford – and Ignite at Polesden Lacey will be lighting up Surrey.

With so much to take in, National Trust gardeners and outdoors teams have picked their top trees to look out for this year, below.

Trees shape our favourite places. Do yourself the world of good and find more of this across Sussex.

Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex

Enjoy Sheffield Park & Garden as the Autumn colours ignite the trees and cast picture perfect reflections in the lakes. Famous for its autumn colour, this is the season the garden was planted for. Take in the natural beauty as Sheffield Park glows with brilliant displays of reds, oranges, purples and greens.


The dazzling displays of autumn colour are a show-stopper, especially where they are reflected in the historic lakes.

Pick up children’s spotter sheets and spot visitor-created art installations alongside Sheffield Park’s classic autumnal walk.
Gardens and Outdoors Manager Flic Archer says: “Sheffield Park is famous for its collection of nyssa sylvatica. With 400 raised from seed by Arthur Soames between 1910-1924, the garden has the largest collection of nyssa on one site. The reason for the concentrated planting of the species was to recreate ‘the fall’, exhibiting the spectacular autumn colours displayed by the species.”
Autumn is a busy time of year at Sheffield Park, for information on visiting see nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden
Opens daily, 10am to 5pm. Normal admission applies.

Nymans, West Sussex

Fiery colours take over in the South African and summer borders in this romantic garden, surrounding the ruins at Nymans. There are uplifting views of the High Weald, from all around the gardens, as the trees in the landscape turn golden and red.

Look out for the red foliage of the American nyssa trees, liquidambers and acers and the bright yellow foliage of the hickories.

Opens daily, 10am to 5pm. Normal admission applies. (4pm closing time after half term)

For families throughout Autumn: find out about the secret life of trees in the Play Glade, a natural play area.
October half term: half-term sees the return of the pop-up pumpkin patch at Nymans, where an array of seasonal games await. Pick up an autumn trail pack and go on a pumpkin hunt around the garden, completing some autumn challenges on the way.
Standen, West Sussex

The arts and crafts garden at Standen has winding walkways, lined with acers, which are enchanting in autumn. The kitchen garden is a particular delight, while the trees in the orchard hang low with seasonal fruits. The Barn café has delicious treats, made from seasonal produce from the garden.

On the wider estate, you can crunch through autumn leaves on the easy-to-follow way-marked trails.

The Joy is in the Making exhibition continues in the house at Standen until the end of October. Discover installations created by celebrities exploring the wellbeing benefits of hand making, and why the Arts & Crafts are relevant today. Be inspired by the process of pottery by Keith Brymer Jones, the intricate detail of cross stitch by Mr X Stitch, the beauty of embroidery from Niamh Wimperis, Kaffe Fassett’s colourful designs and Edith Bowman’s joyful photographs.
Standen’s Traditional Craft Fair returns 18 & 19 September, 10am – 4pm. See exhibitors keeping traditional skills alive with demonstrations and selling stalls.
Apple Day, 25 October
Celebrate Apple Day at Standen in the kitchen garden. Enjoy tastings and discover some of the history around the Standen orchard. Then look out for Apple Taster Days and Dyeing Days – every Saturday throughout September in the Kitchen Garden – See the fruits of the Kitchen Garden’s harvest this autumn with tastings and demonstrations of how to naturally dye wool.

Pumpkin Rescue trail for families, 1 October to 14 November
Follow the clues around the Kitchen Garden to discover how you can make more than just a scary face out of your pumpkin. During October half term look out for displays of crocheted pumpkins all around the garden – and take part in the harvest and senses trail for families.

Opens daily, 10am to 5pm. Normal admission applies.

Petworth House and Park, West Sussex

Petworth House and Park has so many veteran trees that it has its own downloadable Ancient Trees walk, dotted with sumptuous autumn colour from magnificent oaks, limes, beeches and chestnuts.

The Capability Brown parkland is transformed with swathes of pale golden grasses. Don’t miss the views of the lakes and mansion in the soft autumn light.

Gardens and Outdoors Manager Martyn Burkinshaw says: “One ancient tree in Petworth Park is estimated to be around 940 years old, so a sapling around the time of the Norman invasion. The oak tree has survived all the landscape changes since the 12th century. It now has hollies growing from decomposing wood in its cavities. This tree has been here since before the park itself and has now been captured in a detailed drawing by Richard Geraint Evans which will feature in the exhibition room at Petworth during autumn as part of his GPS Trees exhibition.” The Petworth ‘GPS Trees’ exhibition runs from Mon 11 Oct to Sun 5 Dec.
Discover a variety of fascinating fungi species in the park. The area is a waxcap fungi meadow, as the grass is kept short by the nibbling from the resident herd of deer. Species to be seen include fly agaric, parrot, parasol and scarlet waxcap. The fungi in the park shouldn’t be picked.
Deer rut guided walks, Mon 18, Wed 20, Fri 22, Mon 25, Wed 27 & Fri 29 October, 10.30am-12.30pm
Autumn is the time of year when the fallow deer rut in the park. You can join a two-hour guided walk to learn more about this species, what the rut is all about and observe seasonal behaviour, with the chance of watching rutting stags. We recommend bringing binoculars, and there will be an element of hiding and remaining silent. Walks are £5 per person, children free. Booking essential on 01798 342207.

Opens daily, 10am to 5pm. Normal admission applies.