Autumn's splendour at Sheffield Park
PUBLISHED: 01:16 11 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:07 20 February 2013
There is plenty of seasonal foliage colour to enjoy in our gardens and woodlands at the moment. One garden that is awash with burnished hues is Sheffield Park, near Haywards Heath
Cold, clear nights brightening into sunny days, shafts of slanting light intensifying the rich hues of russets, crimsons and golds; these are the days of autumn that we all anticipate. There is the first dusting of frost icing the leaves and sprinkles of glistening berries, along with the added sounds of leaves crunching underfoot, to intensify the experience.
Deciduous trees and shrubs don their cloaks of many colours before disrobing into the bare beauty of skeletal forms. This is one of natures most stunning evolutionary tricks, a beautiful phenomenon caused by deciduous plants slowing their metabolism.
The chlorophyll content of leaves aids photosynthesis and keeps them green through spring and summer, before the shorter days and cooler temperatures trigger a gradual reduction in chlorophyll production within the leaves, ceasing to mask the other colour pigments present in the foliage. The plants prepare for winter when they will rest and live off the food they stored during summer. Plants use this time to recycle nutrients from the foliage and deposit hard-to-eliminate waste products inside the leaves before they are finally shed.
Lets just admire the beauty while the science takes care of itself. Take a stroll around the glorious informal landscape at Sheffield Park Garden with its blaze of seasonal colour. Laid out in the 18th century by Capability Brown and further developed in the early 20th century, the scene is of towering trees and watery vistas across large lakes, with plenty of meandering paths to explore.
Sheffield Park Garden, TN22 3QX
Daily (10.30-5.30/4 in winter)
The National Trust