In the colder months, these gardens are the perfect place to wander aimlessly through, complete with a knitted scarf, trusty walking boots and a camera good enough to snap some photos of the local wildlife. Here’s a selection of the best winter wonderlands cared for by the National Trust:
The story of Anglesey Abbey is an inspiring tale for many. The garden, which is designed specifically with plants that generate winter colours and fragrances, feature bright yellow and red dogwoods, Tibetan Cherries and winter flowering honeysuckle. Part of the grounds are full with the silver barks of the Himalayan Silver Groves, and just after New Year, in between the trunks, thousands of snowdrops spring up and dot over the landscape.
Behind manicured yew hedges, complete with patchwork beds and dramatic views across the sprawling moors, the surrounding garden that backdrops against Castle Drogo is a terraced formal garden. The castle is hailed as the ‘last castle to be built in England’ and its grounds, which trail out into the sheltered Tegin Valley, explore ancient gorges and winding rivers.
Thought to be one of the earliest surviving formal gardens in England, the ancient structure of Godolphin’s side garden becomes most visible during winter months. The mild climate in West Cornwall means that snowdrops and arrive here much earlier than in other parts of the country. The wider estate is also open all year, so why not take a walk to the top of Godolphin Hill, where you can see across to St. Michael’s Mount and St. Ives.
Winter is a great time to visit Killerton’s gardens. It's home to trees and plants from around the world, collected by the Acland family, resulting in a forever changing rich tapestry of colour all year round. A visit to the Chapel is a must during late winter, as the grounds bloom with colour from winter flowering cyclamen, while around the house the garden enjoys the red colours of berries and the flowers of Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) and Camellia sasanqua. Don’t forget to visit the unique Bear’s Hut, meet the Dartmoor ponies on the Clump, and explore the wider parkland.
Take a stroll in the tranquil, sparkling frosty parkland, which heads down to a secluded pond with the towering Redwoods. You’ll be able to spot one of Europe’s largest Turkey Oaks on your way back to the toasty stables, where you can enjoy a hot soup, or one of the delicious Sunday carveries, made using the Trusts own produce.
Stourhead is a beautiful, tranquil place to visit during winter. A magnificent lake reflects classic temples, mystical grottos and swathes of surrounding trees. The buildings and statues in the garden are a key part of Henry Hoare II’s carefully constructed views. They form focal points around the lake, as if in a living painting.
Visitors to Mottisfont can enjoy the National Trust’s newest winter garden, exploring the potential of plants that are at their most beautiful and interesting when other plants are in hibernation. The garden blends a number of unusual plants that are rich in colour and scented. Gullies of foliage plants appear to wind through the banks of willow and spill into the stream. As winter creeps in, the garden becomes a refuge for late flowering shrubs and sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle.
In the winter, mist drifts across the lakes at Stowe, Buckinghamshire. The greatest minds in gardening design, including Lancelot Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and William Kent were the architects behind this stunning 250 acres of, lakes, classical temples, woodland and winding paths.
Having been open for only two years, Bodants winter garden is a still a relatively unheard of English gem. It has coloured stemmed birches, bulbs and begonias that provide a splash of colour against a white frost. It’s perfect for winter walks and when it does turn colder, you can stop and grab a drink from the tea stop. With hot drinks, snacks and a warming fire, it's the perfect place to pause and reflect while your on your way.
There is plenty to discover in this iconic part of the Welsh countryside. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, history or just want a peaceful walk with spectacular views; Dinefwr is the place for you. Discover the hundreds of oak trees that are more than 400 years old, standing proudly overlooking the National Nature Reserve.
Many say that in the early mornings, when the mist rises over the Castle Ward house, that Irish hares can be seen boxing on the manicured front lawn. The estate is set against the Lough shoreline and backs out into miles of woodland trails. When the weather turns chiller, there’s the echoing sound of migrating birds fleeing from the sea front. There’s even an opportunity to explore Lough shore further.
Nothing makes for a winter photo opportunity, than the spire of a gothic chapel, with miles of white landscape set behind it. The former Ducal Park is open at all times of year and is best explored on foot or bike. Walking through ‘Lime tree Avenue’, where the double lime trees sparkle in the winter frost, is a sight to marvel at.
The Dunham Massey winter garden is the largest of its kind in the UK. The seven-acre garden is home to over 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs providing plenty of distractions from the cold - from striking white-stemmed silver birches and bright dogwood barks to colourful berries and flowers. In February, look out for thousands of snowdrops which carpet the garden as well as the striking colours of the blue winter iris and swathes of early spring daffodils.
Fountains Abbey is a step back into the past. With its own medieval deer park and beautiful Georgian water fountains it boasts over 800 acres of parkland full of hidden walks. You’ll find lots of larch and scots pine, whilst yews provide splashes of winter colour to frame the frosty views. The ruins of the abbey are stark against the winter sky, while the water gardens create mirror-like pools, reflecting the planting around them.
Leave the formality of the house behind this winter and explore the wonderful eighteenth-century grounds waiting for you in the woods at Wallington. Whichever path you take through the woods, whether it’s the winding Serpentine Path or the longer path that loops around the China Pond and past the impressive Portico House; the stunning landscape will surround you. There is also a beautiful Edwardian conservatory (originally created as a Winter Garden) which is home to an array of beautiful plants throughout the year. The grounds at Wallington are open all year round, including Christmas Day, and are the perfect place to walk off the Christmas dinner.
Each and every visit to a National Trust place helps support the charity’s work caring for special places for future generations. For more information on National Trust events, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events
For more ideas of what you can do this autumn, pick up a copy of Yours, which is out every fortnight.