The Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey

The Winter Garden has been specially designed with plants that are at their best during winter, when colour is in short supply elsewhere. But its worth a visit at any time of the year.

The Winter Garden is long and narrow, so the meandering path allows new surprises on every bend. Its position takes full advantage of the low winter sun, which picks out the details of the unusual plants along the way. Over the next three years, we are embarking upon some changes to various areas that will rejuvenate and give added sparkle to the route. The colour palette has changed much since it was first planted, and to reflect that, we are choosing new types of plants that represent winter plantings for the 2020’s and beyond. There will be a great deal of mulching with the replanting to ensure that our new plants will settle in well and be as resistant to dry weather as possible.

Winter colour

Glorious colours are displayed by plants such as Scarlet Willow and Red-barked Dogwood, which dazzle with orange and red respectively. Silver-fern bramble shines pure white and it won't be long before Hellebore flowers add a little colour into the mix.

Full of scent

It's not only through the eyes that pleasure is found. The air is full of the scent of Sarcococca (Christmas Box), Mahonia, Chimonanthus (Winter Sweet) and the very sweet perfume of winter-flowering honeysuckle. Early-flowering Narcissus add their scent to the spring air.
There are tactile elements to the route as well, a Tibetan Cherry (Prunus serrula) has copper coloured bark that demands stroking as you pass and the Himalayan Birch with their ghostly white stems create the same feeling.

You could say it’s a walk for all the senses that’s equally rewarding on a bright day, as it is on a day where the sky is gloomy and grey.

Dogwoods at the start of the Winter Walk
Bright red Dogwoods at the start of the Winter Walk
Dogwoods at the start of the Winter Walk

Constantly changing

Ground cover is used extensively throughout the winter garden to add to the display including Bergenia and Periwinkle. Bulbs and flowers include Crocuses, Tulips and Hellebores as well as Anglesey's famous Snowdrops.

Snowdrops are the first heralds of spring and as such are welcomed by all. In fact snowdrop enthusiasts – galanthophiles – come from the world over to see one of the largest collections in the country here at Anglesey Abbey.

Admire the silver birches in the Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey
Close up of the bark of a silver birch tree
Admire the silver birches in the Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey

The grand finale and focal point of this garden

There are many trees with special winter interest to be seen as you walk through the garden. A particularly fine example is the Killarney Strawberry Tree that displays its strawberry-like fruit in the weeks before Christmas alongside white bell-like flowers, whilst the shaggy peeling bark of the paperbark Maple (Acer griseum), reveal a mosaic of greens and browns beneath.


However, the grand finale of the winter garden is the grove of Himalayan Silver Birch with their pure white trunks dramatically rising from a deep red underplanting of Bergenia 'Bressingham Ruby' and its mass display of Tulip ‘Little Beauty’ around Easter.   The original planting has now been expanded by a further 112 trees to ensure longevity of the spectacle over the next 30 years, and in spring seem to float on a sea of blue-flowering bulbs.