Explore Charlecote's gardens in winter

Look out for the snowdrops among the cyclamen coum brightening the gardens at Charlecote Park

The lush swathes of colour in the borders are long gone, but there are still delights all around the gardens in winter, with hints of spring to come - you just have to look a little harder.

Take a stroll around the gardens that Mary Elizabeth Lucy loved so dearly in Victorian times and whatever the weather, you’ll find our gardeners – staff and volunteers – at work all year round. They’ll tell you more if you want to chat, or just take a seat and enjoy the results of all their hard work.

The scent of viburnum will greet you on your way into the woodland garden
The scent of shrubby viburnum will greet you on your way into Charlecote's woodland garden this winter
The scent of viburnum will greet you on your way into the woodland garden

There’s always something to discover in the gardens whenever you visit. Snowdrops and jewel-pink cyclamen are in flower in the coldest days, soon followed by yellow eranthis (winter aconite) popping out of fozen soil in the borders. Look out for the first snowdrops in sheltered spots before Christmas.

Enjoy the spring bulbs all around the gardens this spring
Daffodils and crocuses in spring garden at Charlecote
Enjoy the spring bulbs all around the gardens this spring

Look out for hellebores and pots of bulbs in the Avenue Plant Centre after Christmas and take a little memento of Charlecote home with you.

Stoop to find a hidden delight in the woodland garden that you wouldn’t have spotted if perhaps you hadn’t sheltered from a shower. Scented shrubs like mahonia, skimmia and viburnum will lift your spirits in winter, you’ll often be aware of the perfume before you see the flowers.

Look out for unusual winter-flowering Sycopsis sinensis in the woodland garden
Look out for unusual plants like Sycopsis sinensis in Charlecote's woodland garden
Look out for unusual winter-flowering Sycopsis sinensis in the woodland garden

Shady informality

Now known as the woodland garden, Mary Elizabeth’s Wilderness flourishes beyond the long border. Her Victorian visitors – like our visitors today - would have been entranced by rare and unusual shade-loving plants and ferns in this tranquil haven.

Lean in to enjoy the delicious scent of mahonia in the woodland garden and along the north border to the parterre
Yellow mahonia flowers in winter in woodland garden at Charlecote
Lean in to enjoy the delicious scent of mahonia in the woodland garden and along the north border to the parterre

Our hellebore collection here begins flowering in January and continues until April – singles and doubles in beautiful shades of pink, white and cream.

Discover early-flowering hellebores in the woodland garden
Double white hellebores in woodland garden at Charlecote
Discover early-flowering hellebores in the woodland garden

Victorian influences

Mary Elizabeth’s presence still influences the gardens. Her formal riverside parterre was carefully reinstated twenty years ago and twice a year our gardeners skilfully co-ordinate a new planting plan. The back-breaking planting of thousands of new bedding plants each autumn brings colour in early spring, with brave polyanthus giving us a little colour through milder winter days from December.

Crocus Cream Beauty is a delight as spring approaches
Crocus Cream Beauty in garden by croquet lawn at Charlecote Park
Crocus Cream Beauty is a delight as spring approaches

Enjoy the scent of Christmas box (sarcococca var. humilis) by the benches overlooking the croquet lawn - you'll often notice the scent on a warmish day before you reach the plant.

Delightful playhouse

The Orangery tea-room once housed fashionable Victorian ornamental exotics, and the little thatched summerhouse next to the Orangery has undergone restoration work, funded partly by the proceeds of raffle tickets bought by our kind visitors in previous years.

Mary Elizabeth had this summerhouse built as a playhouse for her grandchildren and it was based on one that she remembered from her childhood in Wales.

Tinted foliage of Abelia grandiflora brings colour to the gardens in winter
Frosted abelia grandiflora in the winter garden at Charlecote
Tinted foliage of Abelia grandiflora brings colour to the gardens in winter

Modern formality

You can see how the Lucy family influence still prevails in the gardens today with the topiary in Green Court. The present baronet, Sir Edmund Fairfax-Lucy created the formal design based on mathematical relationships between the house, the gatehouse and this lawned forecourt. It always looks stunning on a frosty day and the nerines brighten this space until Christmas.

And don’t forget to look out for our friendly robins, happy to hop about close to our visitors.

Our friendly robins are always close by, looking for bugs to eat
Robin in spring garden with eranthis in flower at Charlecote
Our friendly robins are always close by, looking for bugs to eat

When you buy anything from our Avenue Plant Centre next to our car park, you can be sure that every plant, implement or ornament you buy for your garden will be providing funds for us to care for Charlecote's borders.

Tetrapanax rex - our very own T. rex - enjoys a sheltered spot on the long border
Tetrapanax rex defies winter cold in the long border at Charlecote Park
Tetrapanax rex - our very own T. rex - enjoys a sheltered spot on the long border