Spectacular winter gardens to visit

Our top winter gardens to visit include the magnificent Italian Garden at Trentham and the winter garden at RHS Harlow Carr

ByVictoria Mason

7th January 2023


You may think gardens are sound asleep this season, but here are our top winter gardens to visit across the country. Each has a lot to offer visitors in winter and make the perfect location for a winter walk.

Our selection of thewintergardens to visit are full of colour and interest. So even if it’s cold outside there is lots to enjoy and be inspired by in these great British gardens.


RHS Garden Harlow Carr Photo: Neil Hepworth

Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire

RHS Garden Harlow Carr covers 68 acres of pure inspiration. One of the main highlights this season is The Winter Walk, providing stunning colour and great planting schemes for visitors to enjoy, admire and replicate at home.

“The Winter Walk kicks off in autumn with an array of autumnal tones, colours and textures,” explains horticulturist Russell Watkins. “As the season progresses, winter-flowering shrubs such as sarcococca and daphne lift the mood in the New Year,” he says. “The season comes to a kaleidoscopic finale as the early flowering bulbs such as cyclamen, eranthis and iris burst into life, creating complementary and contrasting combinations best seen from late February and early March.”

Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3,uk

winter gardens


Mottisfont, Hampshire

Enjoy a breath of fresh air and explore the grounds at Mottisfont. In 2009, the team decided to create aWinter Gardenhere to offer visitors year-round interest. Today, more than 5,000 new plants and shrubs, plus 80,000bulbshave been planted, combining colour and scent.

As winter looms, the garden becomes a haven of late-floweringshrubsand sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle. The garden remains a ‘work in progress’, but the Winter Garden just keeps getting better. A great family day with plenty of self-led trails.

Mottisfont, near Romsey, Hampshire SO51

Aberglasney Gardens, Carmarthenshire

There’s so much winter interest at Aberglasney, says head gardener Joseph Atkin. “One of the many bonuses is that the flowering season starts early, in fact it never really stops,” he explains. “Early winter has a lot to offer, with November showing the last of theautumn colour, collections of berried shrubs and coloured stems, as well as a collection of snake-bark maple.” Also look out for the famous winter-flowering Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’, the drifts of hellebores bursting into flower and the witch hazels over Christmas.

Aberglasney, Llangathen, Carmarthenshire SA32

winter gardens

National Trust Stowe. Photo: National Trust Images/Jerry Harpur

Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Dig out your wellies and enjoy the crisp frosty atmosphere at National Trust Stowe, with 250 acres of lawns, lakes and woods to explore. Designed and built in the 18th century, Stowe is a garden with a difference, and with hidden meaning and secret messages at every turn. Regarded as one of the great English Landscape gardens, it has many trails and temples scattered across the grounds, with winding paths, lakeside walks and stunning views.

Stowe, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire MK18

winter gardens

The Palm House at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Photo: RBG Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Woody plants and ornamental grasses take centre stage at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew this season. Other highlights includewinter bulbssuch as early iris and crocus in the Alpine House; snowdrops in the Rock Garden, and coloured tree bark in the arboretum. “Winter is one of my favourite times at Kew,” says head of the arboretum Tony Kirkham. “I always head to the Pinetum to see the conifers suddenly come to life.” If it rains, visit the glasshouses such as the Palm House or the Princess of Wales Conservatory for exotic tropical plants.

Kew, Surrey TW9

winter gardens

The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Pic credit: Ruth Perkins

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

The Lost Gardens of Heligan was unveiled to the public in 1992 and now provides a wealth of inspiration to suit all styles ofgardens. With more than 200 acres to discover, be sure to see everything the garden has to offer, such as the Victorian productive gardens, pleasure grounds, sub-tropical jungle, and the wildlife project – to name but a few. There are many winter highlights including cyclamen, early camellias, hellebores and fuchsias, while carpets ofsnowdropscan be enjoyed throughout January.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St. Austell, Cornwall PL26

winter gardens

Studley Royal Water Garden. Pic credit: National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire

Wrap up warm and admire the beauty that is Studley Royal Water Garden. “Winter is a wonderful time to visit Studley Royal, a Georgian ‘green garden’,” explains Head of Landscape, Michael Ridsdale. “The breathtaking views, which were carefully considered by the designer, are revealed in winter when the tree cover is sparse, uncovering classic temples and follies hidden in the landscape.” Be sure to bring a camera on the day, as it’s worth the climb up the High Ride path to see the whole garden laid out like a work of art.

Studley Royal Park, Fountains Abbey, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4

Trentham Gardens

Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire

With 80,000 perennials planted in The Italian Garden – more than 400 different varieties in 70 flower beds, and many of the perennials left standing throughout autumn into late winter – this is definitely the place to come for year-round interest.

“The vastperennialplantings and formal structure of The Italian Garden are enhanced through the early winter by the architectural beauty of defoliated stems and sun-bleached seedheads,” explains head of gardens and estate Michael Walker. “When combined with snow, or even a hoar frost, the garden provides a picture-perfect experience.”

Trentham Estate, Stone Road, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire

With 180 acres of gardens,Sir Harold Hillier Gardenshas colour and interest throughout the year. The Winter Garden, situated close to the Visitor Pavilion, contains more than 650 different plants grown for a winter effect between November and March. Extended earlier this year, it now covers around four acres in total, making it one of the largest winter gardens in Europe.

Marvel at the white-stemmed birches; red, orange and yellow dogwoods; mahogany tones of Tibetan cherries and the cinnamon-toned snake-bark maples. “Look out for the hellebores with their nodding flowers, which are always popular when rimmed withfrostand laden with dew,” says head of collections David Jewell. “It is a deservedly popular feature at this time of year.”

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Jermyns Lane, Romsey, Hampshire SO51

For more gardens to visit, clickhere.

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