We have some of the best gardens in Britain which are stunning all year round, and although it’s easy to assume that most plants and flowers sleep through the winter season, there are so many bursting with colour and interest and make wonderful winter wonderland walks.
Mottisfont is a great choice for a family day out with lots of self-led trails full of late flowering shrubs and sweet smelling winter honeysuckle. The Winter Garden was created in 2009 to offer visitors year-round interest. Although still a work in progress, so far over 80,000 bulbs and 5,000 new plants and shrubs have been planted. Dogwood and ornamental bramble shows off bright winter bark speckled with bursts of colour from berries. it’s not just the beautifully thought out colours to catch your eye, but the Sweet-scented daphnes and winter-flowering honeysuckles, viburnum, wintersweet and witch hazels create subtle and stunning fragrances to enjoy while out walking.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
It would be easy to presume that the winter months means the pace slow down for the gardeners at Kew but is actually quite the opposite! Kew’s team of horticulturalists are busy rotating organic matter into the soil to raise nutrient levels, tender plants are brought back into the nurseries to protect them from frosts and leaves are blown back under trees from pathways to decay and return nutrients back into the soil. Wrap up with a few extra layers and take a stroll around Kew to admire the natural architecture of the deciduous trees, the bright red tones of the Dogwood and stunning white blooms of Snow Drops, and enjoy the incredible scent of Sarococca confusa and Witch Hazel.
Hillier Gardens & Arboretum, Winchester
The Winter Gardens have over 650 plants specifically chosen and grown for their winter beauty and last from November until March. The Hillier Gardens cover a huge 180 acres with the 2014 Winter Garden extension taking it to 4 acres, Hillier Gardens is now one of the largest Winter Gardens in Europe. The expansion included adding 500 Cyclamen tubers planted as a ground cover in a bed near the small summer house and a large new bed planted with Salix (willow), Cornus (dogwoods) close to the Visitor Centre. The palette of browns and bold stems, scents and foliage have been carefully selected with extra height provided by some existing birch trees.
Polesden Lacey House & Gardens, Surrey
Designed in the 1950’s by Graham Stuart Thomas, Gardens Adviser to the National Trust for over 20 years, was the sole basis for his 1957 book ‘Colour in the Winter Garden’. The Winter Garden at Polesden Lacey has largely remained untouched from when Thomas left it. Although known for his work with roses, Polesden Lacey’s Winter Garden is an iconic example of the sheer breadth of his creative vision. The Winter Garden is tucked away behind the gardener’s cottage in a quiet area of the formal gardens and blooms with vibrant yellow winter aconites and pure white snowdrops dashed with streaks of green and yellow. The three Persian ironwood trees draws the eye upwards to the dark crimson canopy. Not only does the Winter Garden look good but it smells good too with Sarcococca, sometimes known as Sweet Box or Christmas Box and as well as the likes of Hellebores, Viburnums and Stachyurus chinensis. Escape the cold and take time to visit the exquisite rooms of the Edwardian house which entertained the likes of Edward VII.
The mansion house at the centre of the Estate was acquired by West Riding County Council and Bretton Hall College was founded as a training college for teachers of art, music and drama and the College opened up to students to draw inspiration from the historic buildings and landscape that surround it. College lecturer Peter Murray first proposed introducing sculpture to the landscape and gardens in 1977 and the Estate was opened for the first time to the public and artists. YSP have continued over the last 40 years to ignite interest in nature, art and sculpture with works from both British and international artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Take a walk around the park’s historic lakes, woodlands and beautifully landscaped gardens of the Bretton Estate including hidden footpaths and bridges, the Greek-style Summer House and magical Shell Grotto.
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
The Botanics can be found juts 1 one mile north of the city centre and is set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscapes with breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline. The Gardens have a rich and diverse collection of plants with a history dating back almost 350 years. This includes 10 magnificent Glasshouses, including the Tropical Palmhouse and the Victorian Temperate Palmhouse, housing over 3,000 exotic plants within its 10 different climatic zones such as steamy tropics and arid desert. A highlight not to be missed is the word-renowned collection of rhododendrons from the Himalayas, the Woodland Garden, Arboretum and tree collection, the Chinese Hillside and the Scottish Native Plants Collection in the Heath Garden. The vast and extravagant collection leaves visitors with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the importance of plants in our world.
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