Originally landscaped by Capability Brown in 1776 from surrounding woodland is Sheffield Park in East Sussex. A garden for all seasons, it is during autumn when it is at its most magnificent. Lambent tongues of orange, gold and vermilion burns brightly against a cobalt sky. Japanese maples, fothergillas (mountain witch alder), Liquidambar styraciflua (sweet gum), Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) and Parrotia persica, the Persian ironwood, take on their seasonal finery to create a vibrant tapestry of rich shades to wow and dazzle visitors.
It is like walking in an Impressionist painting, the views and vistas are spectacular, including those that lead the eye to the imposing mansion built on the axis.
Everything is built on a big scale, even the lakes are known as ‘ponds’. The five hand-dug, clay-lined lakes reflect the carefully placed trees and shrubs, doubling the delight. Swans serenely glide over the mirror-glass waters, reflections ripple for a moment or two before relaxing into a perfect smooth surface.
In autumn visitors crunch their way over multi-coloured leaves, breathe in the sweet scent of burnt sugar from the dusky-pink and pale yellow foliage of the katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum and enjoy the gentle rustle of the strategically placed bamboo.
Following on from Brown was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, Humphry Repton who also designed Sheringham Park in North Norfolk.
The Pulham Falls, which connect Ten Foot Pond and Middle Lake (where water-lilies bloom all summer), were commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Sheffield and installed between 1882 and 1885 by Pulham and Son. The park was further developed in the early years of the 20th century by its owner, Arthur G. Soames.
Many north American trees were planted over the centuries which turn far richer colours than the native British trees. Sheffield Park was designed as a pleasure garden, not an arboretum, and people are encouraged to engage with nature. Orange ribbons mark the trunks of trees that visitors are encouraged to climb. Meandering paths lead you through the garden and further walks can be taken in the wider parkland.
There are no herbaceous borders to admire and foliage at the water’s edge is kept to a minimum so as not to interfere with the reflections of the flaming foliage in the water.
Special trees include Nyssa sylvatica ‘Sheffield Park’ which has a richer red and purple colour that last longer than normal nyssas (black tulepo or blackgum) and the ancient Ginkgo bilboa (maidenhair tree) which has fan-shaped foliage that turns butter-yellow in autumn. One sweet chestnut is at least 450 years old and there is also an English Oak that was planted in 1485.
If you are in the area around the end of October (usually the best time to catch the colours) then do visit this internationally renowned landscape garden. Be warned: Weekends are very busy, so if you can visit mid-week and early (10 am) or later (3 pm) in the day you will find it easier to park.
27 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: Autumn Sizzle”
Years (20?) since I visited Sheffield Park, your photographs make me want to visit! Now!
Now would be the time to go – though it is half term so it will be very busy this week. Mid afternoon would be a good time as people start to leave then.
If I have the energy, I might….but I only have Mon and Tues free, and am currently a bit ‘MSey’…and the weather’s probably rubbish!
Urgh! Not good. I know you said the weather affects you. Raining here today so my plan to capture some golden trees have been scuppered. May have to dip back into the archives 🙂
Heat affects me , otherwise OK…but rain isn’t fun to be out in…
I agree, rain is miserable and no good for photographs either. I spy sunlight on a orange tree so I am off out, now, quickly!
Good for you!
Too late for the park I was intending to go to, but I managed a brief walk down to the river to capture some leaf colour.
And hope you got some good colour…
My word, what amazing colours and reflections you have captured. How many trees did you climb? 😉
I don’t recall the tree climbing ribbons on my visit which was a few years ago, but had I been a little younger I would have been up there!
What an absolute feast for the eyes, Jude! Fabulous photo gallery. 🙂
It is a splendid park. Lovely in spring too with azaleas and rhododendrons in flower.
Oh My,, these photo’s are stunning, and took my breath away.. So lovely.. A place to visit 🙂 Thank you for sharing Jude xx Sue
It wasn’t a great day weather-wise but the beauty of those trees made us smile – a lot!
They brought me loads of smiles just going through them xx
Yup! This is the view out my two picture windows as I write – it’s hard to imagine a finer place to call home. Love this stream of glorious color, Jude.
This is your view? Oh, my, how wonderful – you are lucky 😀
Yes, two softwood maple that turn orange then red then really red. It’s been a slow waltz out each window all week. I don’t need a cat because I sit in the window and purr. But I’ll give you my spot when you come 😘
That is so generous of you. I guess I shall have to visit in autumn to get the best out of this view 🙂
This post absolutely scintillates, Jude! Your colours are fabulous. I thought my arboretum was pretty but this park knocks spots off it. We are lucky to have such beautiful places to linger, aren’t we? I know the weather’s sometimes garbage but just look at this! It’s stunning 🙂
I especially love Reflections and Canada Geese, and the sequence around that bridge. I have a very inferior shot of that pink and orange shrub which I might leave out now 😦 Did you need to do much processing on this? I really love it.
Most of these photos are as taken, a little cropping and adjustment of brightness, but not colour. It really DOES look like this 🙂
Loving the reflections. Gorgeous!
This garden has some of my favourite trees, Ginkgo, Toffee apple – I can smell it from here, and Ironwood, splendid! Wonderfully written and photographed Jude.
The smell is lovely, always reminds me of cinder toffee and bonfire night and parkin!
>Orange ribbons mark the trunks of trees that visitors are encouraged to climb.
A far cry from “keep off the grass”. 😉
Oh yes, times they are a changing! I think it is a way for the NT to encourage younger families to the places by encouraging kids to explore and have fun. We oldies aren’t going to be around forever to keep on visiting them and their tea-rooms 😉