The garden in winter at Uppark

One of the amazing things about a winter visit to Uppark is its silence. Uppark's hilltop isolation lends it a certain stillness even at the height of summer but this winter silence is something profound, ancient and welcome.

The cluck of a startled pheasant and a crack of wings on take-off are liable to break this quietude but in comparison to the summer's hubbub and its punctuating screams of excited children running around the meadow, Uppark is a tranquil place.

Spikes of hoar frost on the 'Golden Gates' of Uppark
Hoar frost on Golden Gate at Uppark, West Sussex
Spikes of hoar frost on the 'Golden Gates' of Uppark

The retained architecture of plants left standing long after they've died back and the suspended weight of the rain drops which hang from their delicate, blackened forms is as beautiful as anything the garden can produce regardless of season.

Winter brings its own architectural forms to Uppark's gardens.
Spikes of hoar frost cling to leaves at Uppark, West Sussex
Winter brings its own architectural forms to Uppark's gardens.

Uppark still hums with a muted vibrancy: the sedum have turned deep maroon, the silver-leaved lime hangs onto a few pale green and yellow summer remnants, and the beech leaves (whether on the ground or still on the trees) continue to provide a beautiful splash of red and orange.

The sun sets through the architectural forms of leafless trees.
Winter sunset through the trees at Uppark, West Sussex
The sun sets through the architectural forms of leafless trees.

Out beyond the South Lawn, the leafless Copper Beech still revels in its imperious isolation; no matter what the time of year, in full leaf or in stark mid-winter, this beautiful tree never fails to inspire. Similarly, although the riotous growth of spring and early summer deserted the South Meadow long ago, the view from up here remains as stunning as ever.

The Copper Beech out beyond the south lawn never fails to inspire.
Copper Beech tree in hoar frost at Uppark, West Sussex
The Copper Beech out beyond the south lawn never fails to inspire.

If you haven't already visited nearby Harting Down, another National Trust gem, the early morning mist and sunshine that sometime miraculously combine to hang over the village of South Harting below, occasionally harmonise to create another dreamy view.

The views across the South Downs are stunning throughout the year
Sun rising over the frost in the south meadow at Uppark, West Sussex
The views across the South Downs are stunning throughout the year