THE lights are coming on this autumn to illuminate exotic and rare plants.

Staff at Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens are gearing up for the annual Enchanted Floodlit Gardens event when candlelit pathways bring out the best of the foliage.

The annual illuminations are on from October 16 until November 4. Visitors can stroll along pathways enjoying the splendour of the gardens from dusk until 8.30pm.

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens won the 2012 HHA/ Christie’s Garden of the Year award and has been des-cribed by TV’s Alan Titch-marsh as ‘one of the finest gardens I have ever visited.’ They were established in 1765 by Elizabeth, the first Countess of Ilchester, as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle and are now among the best-loved gardens in Britain, Grade 1-listed by English Heritage and filled with rare and exotic plants from across the world.

Following a storm in 1990, gardens’ curator Stephen Griffith masterminded a renaissance, dividing the area into a series of zones and introducing many new and exotic blooms.

The gardens are a mixture of formal and informal flowers, famous for its camellia groves and magnolias and noted for its rhododendron and hydrangea collections and the Victorian Garden.

General manager of Abbot-sbury Tourism John Houston said: “Romance and serenity reign supreme during our Enchanted Floodlit evenings.

“Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens are at their most splendid when the leaves on the ancient trees are a riot of autumn colours, bathed in the wonderful nightlights.”

The walk around the gardens takes 40 minutes with a shorter route, also suitable for wheelchairs.

It is advisable to wear sensible footwear and bring a torch. For more information call the Abbotsbury Tourism office on 01305 871130 or visit