23 Things to do at Markshall in 2023

Now is the perfect time to plan your Markshall bucket list! Discover a new tree, relax in the confetti of the spring blossom, or join a guided walk and discover the 1,000-year history.
We’ve put together our top 23 things to do at Markshall in 2023, so you can plan a fun filled year of visits.

1) Become a tree detective
Notice a tree with unusual leaves or spot a tree with a leaning trunk? Pursue your curiosity for the landscape around you discover something new. Each tree within the Arboretum has a label, like the one above! Find out when the tree was planted, where it’s native to and have a little research about the tree to learn something new. Celebrate your finds with us by tagging us in your posts and stories @markshallestate

Photo taken by Paul Starr

2) Walk a carpet of snowdrops
Each February time we’re reminded that spring is upon us with snowdrops springing up in Robin’s Grove. The area is transformed into a visual delight with crisp white flowers appearing throughout. The dense carpet can be seen as far as the perimeter paths but make sure you get a little closer and walk through the ancient grove. Perhaps even pose for a family photo.

3) Gaze at the stars
Sell-out stargazing evenings will be returning to Markshall in 2023. Join the volunteers from North Essex Astronomical Society as you discover the stars, moons and planets which light up the night sky. All set in the stunning surroundings of Bench Meadow. Fun for all ages.

Photo taken by Bryan Shaw

4) Walk the longest herbaceous border in the County
In the heart of the 200-acre Arboretum sits the Walled Garden which celebrates its 20th birthday in 2023. Here you’ll find five separate gardens combining traditional with contemporary planting and the longest herbaceous border in Essex. Journey through the gardens exploring stunning colour palettes, carefully selected plants, and beautiful scents. As you venture back to the Visitor Centre be sure to stop at the Flower Garden which is open when there isn’t a private event. Keep an eye on our what’s on page for 20th birthday celebrations for the Walled Garden.

Prunus ‘Tai Haku’ taken by Bryan Shaw

5) Relax under nature’s confetti
You won’t want to miss the blossom which transforms the Arboretum each spring. Magnolias coming into bloom near the Dragon Pool, the Prunus incam Okame turning a beautiful pastel pink. A favourite among the Team is the Prunus ‘Tai Haku’ otherwise known as the Great White Cherry. You can find the avenue of these trees alongside the Lower Lake, opposite the Honywood Oak. They are the perfect photo spot or place to relax and enjoy nature’s confetti. You’ll have to be quick at the blossom only lasts a couple of weeks each time.

Photo by Waldo Ferris

6) Feed the hungry fish
The Lakes at Markshall are home to plenty of carp. If you visit in the spring and summer, be sure to pick up a bag of fish food from admissions. The site of the hungry mouths of the large carp is not to be missed.

Photo of a Peacock butterfly by Estate Worker, Iain

7) Spot butterflies basking in the summer sun
Markshall is home to several species of butterflies during the warmer months. In 2022, the estate saw 27 species thriving across the grounds. The Avenue provides the best chance of seeing the Silver Washed Fritillary. This strikingly beautiful butterfly disappeared from Essex in the 1950s but has been reintroduced by the Trust as part of an extensive conservation programme. Often being spotted in July and August.

Volunteer Ian clearing sweetcorn at the vegetable patch

8) Enjoy a delicious meal with ingredients sourced from the estate
After some nature exploring or to fuel your tummies before heading out into the landscape, enjoy a homemade meal from the Orchard Kitchen. Look out for items which have used ingredients from Markshall’s vegetable and fruit patch. We can guarantee that the squash pies and soaps in autumn are incredible!

Photo of Wollemi pines by Bryan Shaw

9) Walk with living fossils
There are several varieties of trees at Markshall which date back to the time of the dinosaurs including the Ginkgo biloba and Monkey puzzles. But it is the Wollemi pine which is a must see on any visit to Markshall. The Wollemia nobilis dates back more than 200 million years. They were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 1994. Today, Markshall is home to the largest collection of Wollemi pines in Europe! With the species being critically endangered in the wild with less than 100 mature trees noted.

Photo taken by Paul Starr

10) Pose with Percy Peacock… or George!
Two peacocks call the Arboretum home, and we can confirm they are not scared of the camera. Percy and George are brothers and are often spotted keeping guard of the Walled Garden, partying away with guests at the Coach House or going for a gentle stroll around the Lakes. They are often snapped posing in pictures and aren’t afraid to photobomb a selfie.

Photo by Mini + Me Photography

11) Get close to nature with a Wild Wednesday session
Every Wednesday in the Essex School Holidays our Events Team will be on hand in the Wild Wood to aid sessions which bring children and families closer to nature. It could be bug hunting and identification, den building, getting hands on in the mud kitchen or more. This is a free add-on to your Markshall visit so make sure you bring your children to these sessions. We also run several events for adults to get closer to nature. Keep an eye on our What’s On page.

12) Uncover Markshall’s first 50 years as a Trust
We’re excited to announce that a new book will be making its way to the admissions point at Markshall very soon. Written by former Markshall Trust Agent Richard Tattershall, The Charity at 50 captures how we have developed as a charity since 1971. Make sure you pick up your copy.

Buzzard taken by Bryan Shaw

13) Birdwatch in Robin’s Grove
From a jolly robin to a tawny owl there are plenty of different birds which have been sighted flying over the grounds at Markshall. We recommend taking a moment to pause at the bird feeder in Robin’s Grove, in the early months, to see how many different species you see stopping for a well-earned refuel. Between January 27-29, 2023, the rspb have their Big Garden Birdwatch which encourages everyone to get outside either in their own gardens or local green spaces to count how many birds you see. Find out more here.

National Champion Tree, Forest Pansy; Cercis Canadensis, Bryan Shaw

14) Spot a National Champion Tree
National Champion Trees are the UK’s most notable trees. The trees are measured for height and girth (a measurement defined as 1.5m above ground level). The Arboretum is home to three National Champion Trees! Cercis canadensis ‘Forest pansy’, Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp debeuzevillei. and Juglans regia ‘Monophylla’ can all be noticed as Champion Trees due to their blue tree labels. See if you can discover one in 2023.

Photo by Bryan Shaw

15) Walk among wildflowers
As you enter the Arboretum in the spring months, you may see an array of colourful flowers dancing in the breeze and buzzing with plenty of pollinators paying a visit to the beautiful blooms. Take a moment at one of the benches to listen to the buzz and enjoy the stunning display.

Photo by Bryan Shaw

16) Develop a new hobby: Photography
There are so many beautiful points around the Arboretum and moments to capture on your visit. So, whether it is your phone, or a camera why not capture those moments. Our Volunteer Photographer, Bryan, will be sharing his top tips throughout the year on our Facebook.

17) Reflect in the Silent Space
Have you noticed the Silent Space area in Gondwanaland before? We’ve partnered up with the Silent Space project, reserving an area for people to escape and reflect. In this area it is encouraged for phones to be put on silent and for talking to stop whilst people reflect. Gondwanaland is the perfect spot with eucalyptus trees adding a scenic backdrop and a beautiful scent.

Photo by Mini + Me Photography

18) Complete a Trail
Throughout the year, Markshall has various trails for families and visitors to participate in. From finding fairy doors to pumpkins during Halloween, keep an eye on our website to see each trail as they’re announced. Remember to collect your prize if you participate in any of the trails.

Photo by Bryan Shaw

19) Join a guided walk
Markshall has more than 1,000 years of history, 5,000 trees and our amazing volunteers are the perfect guides. Visitors can either book a private tour or keep an eye on our events page for any tours which become available to book.

20) Head out on a bike ride
Grab your bike and take a cycle on one of our woodland paths. We have three routes which range from half a mile to two and a half miles for all abilities and time. Cycling under the canopy of ancient trees and past beautiful meadows thriving with wildlife. Or if you prefer to walk, make sure you put your best walking shoes on and head out into the woodlands.

Photo by Mini + Me Photography

21) Build a den
Head to one of our natural play areas and using materials found on the Arboretum floor, see if you can make a den to hideout in. The Team enjoys finding dens which have been made by visitors.

Photo by Bryan Shaw

22) See displays of autumn colour from trees across the world
The Arboretum is split into geographic zones with trees from across the world making the sections vibrant with autumn colours. The best kaleidoscopes of autumn colours to see are in the Asia and North America Geographic zones.

Natural pressing, Wild Wednesday session

23) Get creative
We’ve seen many local groups and individuals sat around our Lakes and other zones painting or sketching painting the beautiful scenes infront of them. Also, we love finding a painted rock hidden in the Arboretum. Why not give a new skill a go in 2023?

We hope this list inspires your next visit to Markshall. We’re also working on some exciting events for 2023 so make sure you keep an eye out. See you soon!

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