Gardens, glasshouses and conservatories for a tropical winter
A hidden 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.
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. The grounds also provide a creative trail, allowing you to pick up pockets of inspiration as you wander around – maybe try your hand at painting or sketching some of their gorgeous plants?
- Greater London
Carpets of snowdrops and towering birch and beech trees make Eltham Palace’s garden rooms 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, and the fiercely spiked Japanese Bitter Orange, a novelty as its hard green fruit persists in growing throughout the colder months. There are also many varieties of daphnes on display, celebrated for their delicate scent and colourful berries.
- Greater London
An idyllic oasis hidden in 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.
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.