Gardens, glasshouses and conservatories for a tropical winter

Conservatory, Barbican Centre

A tropical oasis at the Barbican, historic woodland at Dunham Massey and a colourful spectrum of winter flowers at Mottisfont – these are some of our favourite winter gardens.

Public ‘winter gardens’ date back to the 19th century, when spectacular glasshouses and conservatories became a fashionable place for people to pay to see the rarest tropical and subtropical plants, as well as enjoy some art and entertainment.

If you’re in need of some seasonal solace why not brighten up the colder months and learn about these beautiful winter gardens? From the hidden oasis of London’s Barbican Conservatory to the colourful scenery of Eltham Palace’s garden rooms, there’s lots to marvel at for the green-fingered among us, including glasshouses, conservatories and billowing outdoor landscapes.

All these venues offer fantastic benefits with a National Art Pass, a Student Art Pass and a Teacher Art Pass. You can also explore our full list of museums and galleries for more places to visit near you.

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The River Test at Mottisfont, Hampshire
The River Test at Mottisfont, Hampshire


The colourful winter garden at Mottisfont is home to dogwood trees, ornamental bramble, snowdrops, berries, fruit and perennials which bring a vibrant pop of colour. Tints of yellows and deep burgundy dominate the ground in the winter months, while winter-flowering honeysuckles, witch hazel and viburnum add a subtle scent to the cold air.

Eltham Palace and Gardens, interior

Eltham Palace and Gardens

Rich scents and a kaleidoscope of coloured hellebore make Eltham Palace’s gardens the perfect nature destination in winter and spring. Winter in particular is when the rare 1930s shrubs can be seen to thrive, including the richly scented Virburnumx birkwoodii, notable for its beautiful winter flowers.

Conservatory, Barbican Centre

Barbican Art Gallery

An idyllic oasis inside one of the capital’s most striking buildings, the Barbican Conservatory is the second largest in London. Full to the brim with tropical plants, trees, flowers, shrubs and romantic hanging vines, it’s a little urban paradise, and a wander round its winding paths and bridges is a welcome escape from busy city life.

Irises in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Irises in the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey, Cheshire

Dunham Massey

Boasting a spectacular seven acres, Dunham Massey’s winter garden is the largest of its kind in the UK, home to over 1,600 winter shrubs, trees and evergreens, with all plants carefully selected for their signature scents, vibrant colours and rich textures. The majestic beech and oak trees maintain the historic woodland feel of the gardens, while the thousands of bulbs that burst from the ground in winter include snowdrops, irises and cyclamen. The garden remains home to wildlife throughout the winter, as bees and woodpeckers forage for food through the colder months.

Winter garden at Preston Park Museum and Grounds

Preston Park Museum and Grounds

An homage to the days of Victorian high society, the gorgeous glasshouse at Preston Park is home to an array of tropical occupants, offering unrivalled views of the parkland. The original mosaic floor and elegant central dome remain intact, complemented by exotic planting.

IndividualTiana Clarke Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

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