Winter walks: the best winter walks in gardens
It may be cold outside but you can still visit beautiful gardens over the winter months. Here's our top picks of UK open gardens to visit for a refreshing winter walk
During the colder months, it's tempting to stay indoors and keep warm by the fire, but winter gardens can be a great source of inspiration so it is well worth taking the time to visit. Enjoy winter flowers, colourful stems, structural seedheads and clipped evergreens covered in a magical layer of frost - visiting a garden in winter can be just as rewarding as seeing everything in full bloom.
Below are a selection of gardens perfect for a winter walk, that offer a great day out, whatever the weather. As always, make sure you check before you travel to make sure the gardens are open to visitors. Some may only be taking visitors who have booked in advance.
The best winter walks
Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire
The gardens at Trentham are renowned for their beauty and magical atmosphere in winter. They have a spectacular structural display of topiary and seedheads, offering a great starting point for thinking about future planting schemes in your own garden that could encompass all seasons. On a winter walk it is difficult not to be inspired by these extensive gardens that include planting schemes by Chelsea gold-medal winners, Piet Oudolf, Tom Stuart-Smith and more recently Nigel Dunnett. Open every day except Christmas Day, 10am-4pm.
The Trentham Estate
National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Carmarthenshire
If the weather doesn't let up this winter and the thought of walking outside fills you with despair, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales allows you to have your winter walk away from the gloomy outdoors. The Great Glasshouse is the largest single span greenhouse in the world and as well as an excellent place to shelter from the Welsh wind and rain, the greenhouse is home to some of the rarest plants from six areas of the world; California, Australia, The Canary Islands, Chile, South Africa and the Mediterranean Basin. You can cover countries and continents over 3,500 square metres in the walk around the dome. Open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 10am-4pm.
National Botanic Gardens of Wales
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond
Internationally renowned for its collection of plants, Kew is well worth a visit at any time of year, but for a winter walk, its famous glasshouses are a welcome retreat from winter weather. Warm up in the recently restored Temperate House that houses some of the rarest and most threatened temperate zone plants. Plus stroll around The Princess of Wales Conservatory where there are 10 computer-controlled climatic zones all under one roof. Open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 10am-3pm.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, North Yorkshire
The ruins of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, a cistercian abbey in North Yorkshire, make for a wonderfully atmospheric winter walk. You can walk around the water gardens and along riverside paths to the deer park, home to red, fallow and sika deer. It is a World Heritage Site with a historic and romantic feel. There are many ancient trees within the deer park such as sweet chestnut, limes and oak. As well as the riverside walk, the extensive parklands are covered in footpaths and trails, suitable for all ages and abilities. You can take a circular walk around the whole estate, enjoying views of the Abbey and passing through over 400 years of history. Abbey and water garden open daily except Fridays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The deer park is open every day, 6am to 6pm.
Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
Cornwall's secret garden, Heligan, is famous for its award-winning restoration and over the years the garden has grown to become a year-round tourist hot spot. On a winter walk, visitors can appreciate the bare bones of the garden, watch birdlife on the bird feeders behind the hide and keep an eye out for fungi in hidden damp areas of the garden. Open every day except Christmas Day - but please note: pre-booking is essential.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Bodnant Garden, Conwy
Eighty acres of landscaped gardens with stunning views of the Conwy valley, Bodnant has an established winter garden, filled with plants chosen for their remarkable colour and fragrance. If it's particularly chilly on the day of your winter walk, take the stream-side path down to the Old Mill, and warm up with a tea, coffee and something sweet. Open every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, 10am-4pm.
near Colwyn Bay
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon
There are lots of imaginative winter planting combinations at RHS Garden Rosemoor. The Winter Garden is now an established highlight with a wonderful balance of mature specimens and ground-cover associations – using conifers, evergreens and perennials. The plant drifts are substantial, delivering a seasonal spectacle using many winter favourites, including witch hazels, viburnums, daphnes and willows. Open every day except Christmas Day, 10am-4pm.
RHS Garden Rosemoor
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Established in 1979, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden continues to be one of the country’s premier winter displays. During the darkest months, our appreciation of colour is heightened and visiting gardens full of shrubs with colourful winter stems, scented winter flowers and brightly variegated evergreens is a treat. Open up until 23 December, 10am-4pm. Closed 24 December to 1 January 2023. Reopens daily from 2 January, 10am-4pm.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Stone Lane Gardens, Devon
In winter, trees take centre stage in many gardens, and one of the best trees for large and small gardens alike is birch - and the best place to see birches is Stone Lane Gardens in Devon. This five-acre woodland and water garden on the outskirts of Dartmoor houses the National Collection of wild-origin birches, planted in accordance to their native provenance, with one group of Chinese red birches being particularly spectacular and worth looking out for, along with a large planting of the whitest of birches: Betula utilis var. jacquemontii. Unusually, the garden is open seven days a week, all year round, including Christmas Day! From 10am to dusk in winter. Dogs on leads welcome.
Stone Lane Gardens
Combine your winter walk with some Christmas sparkle, with our recommendations for the best gardens to visit for winter light shows and illumination trails.
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