Our top winter gardens

Frost sparkles everywhere in the morning sunlight, coating the trees, shrubs and flowers with a magical layer of white. Holly berries are all around, telling us that it’s finally winter. Get your walking boots on and explore a place made new by the winter spell. Find a garden near you and enjoy the beauty that the season brings – many places we look after are home to winter-flowering shrubs to carry on the colour through the colder months.

The Winter Walk in February at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Winter gardens in the East of England 

There are plenty of gardens to visit this winter in the East of England. Immerse yourself in a winter wonderland and check out the flowers in bloom for the season. You could even get a hot drink from the café to warm you up as you take a winter stroll.

Frosty view into the Parterre

Winter gardens in the Midlands 

Wind down with a visit to a winter garden in the Midlands. Wrap up warm and have a look at what gardeners are up to this time of year – they’ll be happy to tell you about what they do to prepare special gardens for the winter ahead.

Visitors walking in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Winter gardens in the North 

Find a garden near you in the North to make the most of the flowers that bloom during the winter. There’s plenty to see, like snowdrops carpeting the ground and shrubs full of berries. After your wintry stroll, why not relax in a warm café or learn about the history of the special place you choose to visit?

A frosty bridge at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex

Winter gardens in the South East and London 

Discover a winter garden near you in the South East and London. See winter colours bursting through in the flowerbeds and find inspiration to keep your own garden flourishing throughout the colder months. For the first time, you can visit Sissinghurst during weekends to embrace the winter chill in the beautiful gardens there.

A winter scene at Stourhead

Winter gardens in the South West 

The South West is great for finding a garden that suits you all year round, including during the winter. It’s also home to the flower count which happens annually on Valentine’s Day.

The colours of winter

A red dogwood plant in the gardens in winter at Arlington Court

Dogwood

This bright red winter bark is a bold addition to a winter garden. When the leaves fall, they reveal a pop of colour underneath in the winter months. Dogwood grows well in woodland areas.

Stem colour brightest during November – February.

Snowdrops in January

Snowdrops

A classic winter flower, it’s also a signifier that spring is on its way. These delicate blooms are best left alone so winter walks shouldn’t pass through them.

Can be seen January – March.

Viburnum tinus in the Winter Garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Viburnum

The lightly scented viburnum is a welcoming sight for winter walkers. It’s best to see these in late winter, when white or pink flowers emerge from the winter buds.

Peak flowering months December – March.

Witch hazel in flower in January

Witch hazel

The spidery flowers of witch hazel are usually yellow but can be orange or red. This long-flowering winter shrub also has a wonderful fragrance.

For the best colours, late winter is usually the time to see this plant bloom.

What the gardeners are up to...

Winter is a time for pruning, planting, tree work, mulching, and getting excited about new seed catalogues as planning takes place for the coming year. At Dunham Massey, gardeners there have relocated the vegetable beds into the new kitchen garden, meaning harvesting will continue during the winter.

Annual rose prunings happen at places like Mottisfont too. If you visit the walled gardens in winter you'll see gardeners out in all weathers tackling this task. An intense period of work helps places to prepare for the spectacular displays in early summer.

Homemade compost is spread throughout the rose gardens and kitchen gardens. This will feed the soil, help with water retention, reduce outbreaks of disease and increase the natural production of beneficial fungi.

Gardening tips for the winter

Preparing your garden for the frostier season can be made easier with the right preparation. Megan Pearson, gardener at Dunham Massey, shares her thoughts:

  • In winter, trees can be planted and most shrubs and trees can be pruned to help define shape and height. 
  • Mulching beds and borders around plants is a productive early winter task to help insulate the soil and to improve the condition of the soil.
  • Don’t attempt to be too tidy in the garden in winter – there may be wildlife hibernating in piles of leaves.
  • If you have a greenhouse, seeds can be started off in trays in late winter/early spring to start initial growth ready for planting out in the coming seasons.