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Spectacular display of autumn colour predicted at National Trust's Basildon Park

Riot of autumnal oranges, reds and yellows as leaves turn

Basildon Park autumn National Trust John Miller
Basildon Park autumn National Trust John Miller

Experts are hopeful for a spectacular autumn display of colour as leaves turn at Basildon Park.

The sunny spell towards the end of September, together with six months of high levels of sunshine, have boosted the chances of a "spectacular and prolonged" display, according to experts at the National Trust.

This is in spite of the recent heavy rain and gales which had the potential to scupper nature’s annual autumn spectacle.

The duration and intensity of autumn colour relies on lots of sunshine for trees to bask in prior to the season’s arrival and weather patterns need to remain favourable through the first half of October for a memorable display, with enough sunshine during the day, cold conditions at night and no intense storms or rainfall.

Some of the most spectacular autumn displays can be seen at Basildon Park as autumn advances, the parkland and gardens transform into a riot of oranges, reds and yellows.

The tulip trees are the first to change in September and early October. The yellowing of the field maples contrast with the surrounding russet and orange of the beech trees.

Directly in front of the house is a majestic copper beech, a Victorian feature planted in 1850.

“It’s a beautifully proportioned tree. In spring, the leaves come through crimson red and mature to dark purple in summer and copper in autumn,” says acting head gardener Tim Martin.

Although the very dry spring caused stress to some trees, classic summer weather with good levels of both sunshine and rain has given trees the best chance of staying in leaf and retaining their full crowns until temperatures start to drop and colour starts to develop.

Tom Hill, the National Trust’s trees and woodland advisor for the South East, says: “I’d expect our autumn colour to be at its peak in mid to late October.

“Autumn displays tend to be very strong in the South East because it’s the most densely wooded part of England. It also supports the highest concentration of ancient trees and ancient woodland in the National Trust’s care.

“A woodland may be ancient, but it never stands still – it is literally teeming with life at all times of year, not just above ground, but beneath our feet.

“The falling leaves nourish the soil and produce a habitat of their own, supporting billions of microscopic organisms that provide the building blocks for all life in the forest.

"It’s also a special time of year to appreciate the amazing natural architecture of our trees as their branches are revealed for the first time in months.”

The conservation charity cares for more than 10 million trees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and looks after one of the largest populations of ancient and veteran trees in the world.

To plan a visit to Basildon Park, go to the website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park

To avoid disappointment, please book in advance at busier times such as weekends and bank holidays.

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