The Savill Garden is one of Britain's greatest ornamental landscapes
PUBLISHED: 21:40 17 November 2014 | UPDATED: 21:43 17 November 2014
This month, Leigh Clapp takes a stroll through The Savill Garden at Englefield Green, beautiful in all seasons, to enjoy its spectacular autumnal cloak of coloured foliage and late flowers
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Need to know
The Savill Garden, Englefield Green TW20 0UU. Open year-round, closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. November 2014 to February 2015: Garden open 10am-4.30pm (last admission 4pm); shop open 10am-4.30pm; restaurant open 10am-4pm. The Savill Building is open 10am-4.30pm. November prices: Adult £9.50; seniors £8.50; children £4.25; under six free. theroyallandscape.co.uk
One of Britain’s greatest ornamental landscapes, The Savill Garden attracts visitors from across the globe and, here in Surrey, we are very fortunate to have it on our doorstep to pop into throughout the changing seasons.
For my part, I have a particular fondness for the final crescendo of colour in late autumn, as leaves flutter to the ground or land softly on the mellowing translucent heads of hydrangeas, while the last of the flamboyant dahlias shout for attention amongst the parchment grasses in the borders.
Part of The Royal Landscape, which comprises a thousand acres of stunning scenery in the south-east corner of Windsor Great Park, The Savill Garden was created by the late Sir Eric Savill in 1931. A place of constant discovery, there are 35 acres of classical and contemporary gardens and exotic woodland to explore, all brimming with a wide diversity of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Essentially a series of interlinking pictures and vistas, it is designed perfectly for a relaxing stroll, as well as being a real treat for the plantsman.
At each season, there is something new to enjoy – from early spring bulbs, through the glorious colour from rhododendrons and azaleas, followed by drifts of alliums. Next, the rose garden, designed by Surrey designer Andrew Wilson and opened in 2010, carries on the show, along with the grand herbaceous borders, before the great variety of foliage, fruit and flower provides the autumnal array. Autumn highlights “Each season fills me with excitement and eager anticipation to see just how well all the planning of new displays and effort from the staff actually comes off,” says Harvey Stephens, head of The Savill Garden since 2006, who has been orchestrating the scene with passion and enthusiasm, adding plants sympathetically to Sir Eric Savill’s work as the gardens continue to evolve.
“Whilst November marks the onset of yet another winter, my spirits are always high at this time of year as the leaves drop and I can marvel at the miraculous intensity of colour radiating from the display of ornamental dogwoods and willows through the Winter Valley.
“I think the garden’s plant displays, vistas and amazingly old oaks are all wonderfully photogenic throughout the year but, for me personally, November has it all! There’s the frost, the late afternoon sun, autumn tints, dramatic early winter colour and some very fine tree silhouettes.
“And if it’s raining, well, at the moment, there’s a fabulous pumpkin and chilli display in the Queen Elizabeth Temperate House to see.” Winter beauty Even as we head deeper into winter, the gardens still retain their beauty. Plus, as Harvey points out, the changing displays in the Temperate House, with their arrangements of pumpkins in the autumn and poinsettias for festive cheer leading up to Christmas, allow you to pop into the warmth when the chill really bites.
What is more, there is an added treat at this time of year too – admission to The Savill Garden is free of charge in December, January and February, making it a perfect place to wrap up warm and take a brisk winter walk.
Get the look...
Create small vignettes as well as large vistas in your garden
Plant a wide variety of trees and shrubs for year-round interest, such as autumn foliage and berries as well as decorative bark
Acers add autumn colour and ones like Acer griseum have the added beauty of curly winter bark
Hydrangeas offer superb autumn colour as the blooms change and mellow through the season
Grasses add grace, movement and autumn tones that are ideal as a foil to brightly coloured dahlias and late-season perennials
Head of The Savill Garden, Harvey Stephens, recommends observing where the autumn light falls in your garden and putting something vibrant in a sunny spot to give life to the scene
Plant blocks of colour from massed cornus underplanted with low grasses such as carex or black Ophiopogon