What to expect at Mount Lofty's Autumn Colours

Are you ready to fall in love with autumn? There's no better place to do so than at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden! The stunning array of colors and the crisp, fresh air will have you falling head over heels for this magical season.

As you enter the garden in the coming months, you'll immediately be greeted by a sea of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns. The leaves on the trees will transform into a kaleidoscope of hues, creating a picturesque landscape that will take your breath away. It's like walking into a painting!

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden's horticultural supervisor Mark Oborn has been working in the garden for two decades and has seen it all when it comes to the autumn colours period.

We caught up with Mark to discuss why he's excited for another year of autumn colours at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.

What to expect at Mount Lofty's Autumn Colours
Photo: Lisa Duffy

1. What has changed about the autumn colours events in your time with Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium?

Mark: Since about 2017 we have witnessed astonishing growth in visitor numbers throughout Autumn which has required us to manage this period of the year differently and treat it as an event.

The increased visitor numbers in recent years is primarily due to the rise of social media and our visitors publicly sharing their beautiful images of Mount Lofty Botanic Garden online.

2. What time do we usually see colour changes in the trees at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden? Is this year any different?

Mark: While each season is slightly different in terms of autumnal tones, we typically see the first colour changes in mid-March through to the end of May, and even into June.

At the moment (2 April), colours are starting to appear on the ash trees as well as some oaks.

What to expect at Mount Lofty's Autumn Colours

3. How many people are you expecting to come through the gates during autumn?

Mark: There has been an average of approximately 120,000 visitors over the autumn period for the past few years and are expecting a very similar number in 2024.

4. Where are the best vantage points for visitors to get a good look?

Mark: Autumn colours can be found throughout most of the garden and exploring deep into the garden can reward visitors with some unexpected beauty.

The arboretum, around the main lake and duck pond (accessed most easily from the lower car park) are the most popular and reliable areas for autumn colour, but don't be afraid to explore from the upper car park and you'll see colours through various parts of the garden, including the woodland.

What to expect at Mount Lofty's Autumn Colours

6. What is it about this time of year that gets visitors so excited, in your opinion?

Mark: I think it has a lot to do with the weather. The weather in autumn is generally mild and pleasant during the day with less extreme temperatures. This makes it perfect to be spending time outdoors with friends and family and when you have the natural splendour of autumn colours as a backdrop, visitors are drawn to the Garden to experience this beauty.

Car parking tips

Visitors attend Mount Lofty Botanic Garden in huge numbers during the autumn period and as a result, finding a car park can be a challenge.

Please remain patient during these busy periods and if you can, visit from Monday - Friday to avoid the peak visitor rush.

The Garden also tends to be quieter first thing in the morning when it opens daily at 8.30am so if you can, visit early in the day.

The upper car park tends to have more opportunity to find a car park on busy days. Please note that there is a steep walk down (and then up again!) through the valleys and woodland to reach the main autumnal scenes around the duck pond and lake.

Traffic controllers are in place on the busiest days, and we encourage visitors to make safe car parking decisions that consider other visitors and the botanical collections.

What to expect at Mount Lofty's Autumn Colours
Photo: Lisa Duffy

5. Do you have any tips for first time visitors?

Mark: It can get extremely busy in the car park on some weekends so if you're planning to visit and you've got a bit of flexibility, I would recommend a mid-week visit for first time visitors just to ensure they are able to fully immerse themselves in the autumnal tones and other garden highlights.

Make sure you wear footwear with plenty of grip and support - some of the gullies are quite steep if you're planning on exploring those. But the pathway around the lake is flat and smooth - perfect for strollers and prams.

It can be cooler and wetter in the hills that the Adelaide Plains, so check the weather forecast before you head out and make sure you bring plenty of layers to keep warm - and some waterproofs or an umbrella if rain is forecast.

Don't forget to bring a fully charged phone/camera - you'll want to take heaps of photos! Feel free to share them with us and tag us too (we're on Facebook and Instagram).

For everyone's safety and enjoyment, our regulations don't permit members of the public to use drones in the Garden, so thank you for leaving them at home.

7. What are some other highlights of Mount Lofty Botanic Garden which visitors can explore?

Mark: I personally love the diversity of flowering plants we have at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.

In spring, we have our wonderful collections of Magnolia and Rhododendron flowering which are beautiful.

But you can't go past our annual and perennial herbaceous displays which fill garden beds with colour throughout spring and summer. Some of my favourites include Flanders Poppies, Sunflowers, Echinacea, Salvia and Delphiniums. You can find these in various spots around the lower entrance.

Fancy a sweet treat? Bracegirdle's has your back!

Don't forget that the Bracegirdle's bus will be on site on weekends and public holidays from 9am to 4pm and will be offering a selection of hot and cold drinks, as well as savoury and sweet snacks.

What to expect at Mount Lofty's Autumn Colours

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