As autumn approaches, the changing colours of trees across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire are a seasonal delight for residents and visitors.

Different trees glow different colours in autumn. There’s a huge range in the spectrum of autumn leaf colours from the pale golden yellow of the silver birch, through the gleaming bronze of the beech trees which grow in the chalky soils of the Chilterns, to the rich orange of rowans and crimson reds of maples and cherries.

Some can even be multi-coloured - Field maples turn a multitude of hues from subtle coral to bright gold.

Here’s a round-up of where to enjoy autumn colour with the National Trust in Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire.

Follow the waymarked routes at Basildon Park (near Reading) to wander through the wavy golden grasses of the parkland into the woodland aflame with colour against bright blue autumn skies.

The oak and beech woods around Hughenden (near High Wycombe) and Greys Court (near Henley) glow bright in autumn and there are many walks to follow, both short trails for a bracing burst of colour and longer ones in peaceful rolling valleys.

The gentle golds and reds of autumn trees filter through the gardens. Wander through the acers and Japanese cherries reflected in the ponds at Cliveden (near Taplow).

At Stowe (near Buckingham) the Grecian Valley is a highlight of the autumn colour at Stowe. Walking from the Grotto towards the Temple of Concord and Victory, there are beautiful copper beech and sweet chestnut trees lining the valley edge. Maples and spindles are red and orange with bright flashes of pink spindle berries. Plus, the America area of the Grecian Valley is loaded with gorgeous red oak trees, liquidambars and maples.

In the orchards, apple and pear trees hang low with fruit. Hughenden’s 40 varieties of apple can be tasted – you can even take a bag home. Greys Court’s orchard is enclosed in the sheltering walls of the walled garden, whilst Cliveden’s stunning Round Garden is a pleasing sight combining the wildness and abundance of nature with formal geometry.

Here are some iconic trees from their collections.


Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli’s favourite tree was the Cedar of Lebanon. On a visit to Israel during his Grand Tour, he brought back seeds, so enamoured was he with the tree.

After he had purchased Hughenden in 1848, primarily to further his political aspirations, he had specimens imported from Lebanon to add to his new estate. Whilst those have since died, new ones have been planted in their place.

Hughenden is also proud to host two champion trees in the parkland. It has Europe’s largest horse chestnut, with a girth of 7.33m.

Steve, who was the ranger at the time the Champion Tree label was awarded, said: “We are so proud of our tree. It’s impossible to date precisely but it’s certainly over 300 years old, so it pre-dates many of the other trees at Hughenden which were planted by Benjamin Disraeli in the 19th century.

“It produces bucket-loads of conkers every year and if it could speak, it would have plenty of stories to tell.”

Hughenden also has the largest field maple in Buckinghamshire.

There’s a Tree Walk you can follow at Hughenden to take in ten of the most magnificent trees on the estate.


Cliveden’s famous Canning’s Oak lies where it once stood, overlooking the Thames. This view was a favourite of George Canning, who held the office of Prime Minister for the shortest time of any PM – just 119 days in 1827.

He was a regular visitor to Cliveden, and a great friend of Sir George Warrender who owned the estate from 1824-1849.

Unfortunately, the severe weather of 2004 caused the old oak to collapse. It now rests where it fell, happily climbed upon by countless delighted children and home to generations of wildlife.


Stowe has a Ginkgo Biloba tree in the orchard at Stowe which is around 200 years old.

Ginkgo biloba is native to China and is the only surviving member of an ancient order of plants. It’s sometimes referred to as a living fossil.

There are several health claims associated with Ginkgo trees, including that compounds in the leaves can have a strong antioxidant effect, can fight inflammation, improve circulation and help cognitive function.

The tree is quite beautiful with fan-shaped leaves which turn a deep saffron yellow in autumn.


Chinese thuja is a common small evergreen tree often used as specimen tree (planted individually, to show off its beauty and character). A small, dense coniferous (cone-bearing) evergreen tree with branches often growing to ground level, obscuring the view of the trunk.

Unlike pines, firs and other coniferous evergreens, the leaves of thuja are scaly, giving the tree a fern-like appearance. Waddesdon’s Chinese thuja, situated to your left if you’re on the parterre, is one of several trees planted by Royal visitors to Waddesdon.

In 1926, King George V and Queen Mary visited James and Dorothy de Rothschild, and planted this specimen. James inherited Waddesdon in 1922 and then bequeathed it in 1957 to the National Trust.

The first Royal tree to be planted was by Queen Victoria, who visited in 1890. Her son, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was also a great friend of Ferdinand’s, and a frequent visitor.

Unfortunately, the Queen’s tree no longer survives.

Waddesdon has an online tree trail here:

Basildon Park

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 head gardener Tim Martin. There’s also an ancient oak more than 400 years old still growing along Tower Lodge drive. It has a vast circumference and is partly hollow, but still lives on, providing a home for a range of creatures.

Greys Court

In a field at the north west corner of the kitchen garden, there’s a glorious copper beech.

It was planted in 1989 to commemorate Lady Brunner’s long association with the Oxfordshire Federation of the WI and their 70th anniversary. Lady Brunner was the last matriarch to live at Greys Court with her husband and children. She was an actress who gave up the stage to raise her family, but was very active in the community.

She was Chairman of the WI and The Keep Britain Tidy Group and devoted to creating the ‘haven of peace and tranquility’ that is the walled garden at Greys Court.

The copper beech, with its flamboyant year-round colour is a fitting tribute to Lady Brunner.