Top 10 winter gardens

During the height of the chilly British winter there is often no greater pleasure than curling up on the sofa with a warm blanket and hot drink, but venturing outside has its rewards. Countryfile Magazine presents ten of the best winter wonderlands that you can visit this festive season.

31st December 2013
© Shutterstock

1.) Stourhead, Wiltshire

This large estate is home to a spectacular landscape garden, which contains a number of interesting temple-style buildings and a man-made lake. The garden was designed by owner Henry Hoare II in the 1740’s and since then has been altered and added to by subsequent landlords, most notably Sir Richard Colt Hoare who introduced rhododendrons and pelargoniums. The striking features of this garden have caught the eye of many a film crew in recent history, and can be glimpsed in both the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice and Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 feature Barry Lyndon.
If the day promises to be sunny and frosty then an early morning visit is recommended in order to see the estate in its true winter glory. 
Further information on Stourhead can be found here.
2.) Mottisfont Winter Garden, Hampshire
The village of Mottisfont is home to the magnificent Mottisfont Abbey and it’s surrounding gardens. Since the estate housed an Augustinian priory in the 13th Century, the gardens have been a key feature of the property, and were shaped by Georgian landowners into the charming pleasure grounds that they are today.
As winter looms, the garden becomes a haven of late-flowering shrubs and sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle. If you wish to visit Mottisfont, then more details can be found here.
3.) Flatford Wildlife Garden, Suffolk
A lovely garden brimming with wildlife, Flatford Wildlife Garden offers a number of interesting autumnal activities that you can get involved with before the frost kicks in. The head gardener will be on hand for a chat on how to extend the flowering season in your garden, or you can explore the wide variety of toadstools growing in the grounds.
Once winter truly begins, Flatford is still worth a visit if you are a keen birdwatcher, as flocks of long-tailed tits and siskins can be found in the trees. For further information on Flatford, click here.
4.) Belsay Hall Gardens, Northumberland
Since the 13th Century, Belsay Hall has been owned by just one family, the Middleton’s, several of whom were gardening enthusiasts. As a result, Belsay is home to several beautiful formal gardens, including the Winter Garden.
As temperatures drop winter plants begin to flourish in the gardens. These include:
  • Flowering Christmas box (Sarcococca confuse)
  • Pink and red rhododendrons
  • Yellow-berried hollies and cloud shaped box
Additionally, three varieties of snowdrop can also be seen.  These are: the common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and the double flowered species of Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' can be seen.  The taller Galanthus 'Sam Arnott' can be found in the Winter Garden.
For more information on Belsay Hall Garden’s click here.
5.) Stowe Gardens, Buckinghamshire
Designed and built in the 18th Century, Stowe is a garden with a difference. Although there may be a limited amount of foliage and flowers in season during the winter months, the many trails and temples scattered across the grounds will be more than enough to keep you entertained. 
If you fancy a good walk around Stowe, then there are three different routes to choose from: vice, virtue and liberty. Each contains various structural and horticultural delights for you to discover, and if you manage to complete all three and have time to spare then there is also a newly completed lakeside walk for you to enjoy.
If the trails don’t entice you then perhaps the wildlife will. Stowe and the surrounding woods and fields are home to an assortment of different creatures, including badgers, bats, longhorn cattle, barn owls and muntjac deer.

For more information on visiting Stowe, click here


6.) The Winter Garden at Dunham Massey, Trafford

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