Banish the winter blues and get ideas for seasonal planting aplenty in our selection of gardens to visit in the colder months
Thought winter was a quiet time in the plant world? Think again! Many RHS Partner Gardens have winter gardens and borders that use stems, barks, winter flowers and berries to create spectacular displays that inject cheer into even the coldest, darkest day. So why not wrap up, head out and get all the winter gardening inspiration you can shake a trowel at!
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Hampshire
At 1.6ha (4 acres), this winter garden is one of Europe's largest. It showcases the huge array of contrasting seasonal colours available to the gardener, from ghostly white-stemmed brambles to inky black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'. Delight in more than 650 winter-interest plants: bright dogwood stems; scented witch hazels, daphnes and viburnums; beautifully clipped box domes and the pink blossoms of the winter-flowering Fuji cherry, Prunus incisa.
Anglesey Abbey Gardens, Cambridgeshire
Prepare to be dazzled by the 450-metre Winter Walk, truly a seasonal must-see that engages all the senses. Drink in the scent of pinkish-white viburnum 'Dawn', touch the smooth bark of the many white-stemmed birches, and hear the breeze rustling through grasses. There are many plants here that deserve to be more widely grown, including the box elder (Acer negundo), which can be pruned to produce long, silvery white stems, and Azara microphylla with its vanilla scented flowers.
Holehird Gardens, Cumbria
Follow your nose to the fine Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' planted just outside the walled garden, and in the winter border, seek out the paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Red Dragon', hellebores, pulmonarias and early-flowering narcissus 'Cedric Morris'. As winter draws on, the first of the snowdrop collection begins to peep out – early cultivars include ‘Faringdon Double’ and ‘Three Ships’. Visit the Dale Panorama for spectacular views of the Lakeland fells.
Osterley Park and House, London
Frosted berries provide a festive burst of colour in the Winter Garden at Osterley Park. The garden brings colour to even the dreariest of days, with bright dogwood stems, nodding hellebores, architectural seedheads and the cheerful blooms of Clematis urophylla 'Winter Beauty' which scrambles up a cherry tree.
Kilver Court, Somerset
The Charlton viaduct makes a stately backdrop to bold textures and colours on the rock garden. Shapely cypress, spruce and juniper make various dogwoods (including Cornus alba ‘Spaethii’, C. alba ‘Westonbirt’ and C. sanguinea ‘Winter Flame’) seem all the more vivid. Heather (Erica carnea) and Cotoneaster horizontalis provide sprays of winter flowers and berries.
Cambo Gardens, Fife
See Cambo Gardens' series of winter gardens - the third is a naturalistic woodland edge planting with birches, dogwoods and a wide range of evergreens and perennials. In late winter, the snowdrops are the undoubted stars - the garden holds the National Plant Collection of snowdrops, and there are more than 300 cultivars to see. Wrap up warm and enjoy 70 acres of flower-carpeted woodland walks, following the Cambo burn to the sea.