Anglesey Abbey Winter Garden is part of a National Trust property located near Lode, Cambridgeshire. The Winter Garden is one part of a much larger garden but is at its peak in the dead of winter. The colors, textures, and shapes are only visible in winter and provide a surreal and beautiful experience in the low winter light. This winter, they are opening the garden at night as part of the Winter Lights at Anglesey Abbey program (December 8,9,15 and 16). Otherwise, the garden is open daily 10:30 to 4:30.
They do many events throughout the year and most people would say go in autumn when the leaves are changing colour. I suggest go in winter as they do an Enchanted Christmas walk through a mile of trees illuminated in the winter night sky. A fantastic time to walk the grounds wrapped up warm with your family and dogs. An absolute must.
My favourite garden is Ness Botanical Gardens managed by Liverpool University but open to the public all year round.
My wife’s favourite time of year is late spring when the bottom meadow is festooned with Cow Parsley. Each year the thoughtful gardeners cut a swathe through the Cow Parsley so that visitors like us can walk within the scented florets on either side swaying in the breeze.
Winter is a good time to visit, as you will have most of the vistas to yourself, which includes the magnificent views over the River Dee, and it’s estuary to the Welsh hills beyond.
The gardens are famous for its mature trees, rare plants and wild flower meadows. It also boasts well-established herbaceous borders and of course its famous Laburnum terrace walk way.
Autumn brings feathered visitors to feast on hare berries and the fruits of the mountain ash. Blackbirds and thrushes will be finishing off the crab apples. Flocks of fieldfares busily combing the meadows and hopefully, we might get to see that rarest of visitors from Scandinavia, the waxwing.
From small formal gardens, the architectural structure and arts and crafts style of Jekyll and Lutyens, to a Victorian terrace and shrubbery, to my favourite, the landscaped Georgian gardens which take up a small valley, there is something for everyone at Hestercombe.
I love a good stomp and the valley walk through woods, up hill and down dale is fabulous and so many of the follies are a delight to stumble across: the Mausoleum, all Gothic Hobbity; the Witch House's coppice-woven-comfort; the Temple Arbour, Tuscan Doric style, which is positioned to turn your back on and stare breathless at the stunning view. The cascade where nature's power crashes through the woods and knocks the stuffing out of me.
And if all that isn't enough, there is a watermill and a gallery to leave the indoory types happily indoors or sometimes I just have lunch in the restaurant - which is literally in the stables - and plan my next route around the grounds.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bought the Waddesdon Estate - originally nothing but farmland - in 1874 as he wanted a country retreat built in the style of a Loire châteaux to entertain his friends. Cue Saturday to Monday house parties of note, with guests enjoying all the mod cons of running water, central heating and electricity.
At this time of year however, the gardens really come into their own with beautiful vistas now opened up across the Chiltern hills. A series of light installations by Bruce Munro, made up of thousands of CD's compliment the already extensive collection of sculptures that dot the garden. There is plenty of walking to be had in the grounds, and a combination of formal and informal layouts that seem to show off the winter colours and open up the vista.
This flight of fancy is one of my favourite places in London. It's a few moments from bustling Hampstead but feels like something from another time.
The red brick Victorian pergola is a delight, crammed with plants and trees, the twisting paths and ornate walkways are a joy to discover. Each flight of steps leads to something new. I love this place in winter when the frost outlines the hanging vines and the sun sparkles on the pond.
North End Way, Hampstead, NW3
Google map: bit.ly/Vp3Izx
Layers of magic and mystery are revealed on a winter walk through this spectcular garden - once the playground of the Lowther family who lived in the now ruined castle. Stunning vistas, hidden dens and red squirrels abound as you explore 130 acres - there's no off limit signs here! Warm your hands and feet afterwards in the Stable Courtyard Cafe - great coffee and scones.
Britain's largest winter garden is set in a magnificent 300 acre deer park. The gardens are beautiful at any time of the year but on a frosty day the colours of the bare stems of cornus and the brilliant white of the many birch trees stand out amazingly. After exploring you can warm up with hot chocolate and home made cake in the Stables Restaurant. Just across the road is the Dunham Massey brewery where a wide selection of prize winning beers are brewed on the premises.
Catch the massive yew hedges outlined in frost, wander along the icy lakeside with massive bull rushes and winter geese. The gnarled ancient trees reveal their labyrinth tangled branches, some arching along the grass perfect for games of hide and seek. Walk the paths lined in clipped formal hedging and pop into the temple or the orangery to shelter and admire the views. If you feel energetic walk to the Gothic and spooky pyramid mausoleum and explore the surrounding winter woodland trails by foot or hire bikes. Plenty of choices to warm up afterwards in the cafe or The Bucks pub next door.
From 1893 Henry Oakley created these labyrinthine paths which twist around above and below ground. James Pulham & Son constructed the man-made dark mysterious grottoes, interspersed with caverns into which natural light filters allowing water lilies, fuchsias and begonias to flourish. After WW11 the gardens were neglected, to the extent that the grottoes were earthed up. More recently they have been re-discovered and renovated.
There are ponds, a fountain, a bog garden with an Indian bean tree and giant rhubarb. Magnificent pine trees are dotted about, formal flower beds and fairy signs for children to seek out.
They sell a small selection of plants next to the friendly cafe where our sandwiches were made for us. A lovely day out in an extraordinary setting.
It’s no secret that Berlin isn’t too pretty and you don’t find a Medieval gem hidden round each corner, but frankly that’s not why you would visit so no shame in that. But if you are on the lookout for some old palaces, grand gardens and cute streets then look no further than Potsdam and bask in the glory of Frederick the Great’s architectural legacy.
And is it worth it? Yes, and I’d have been gutted if I had not gone, and ended up going twice. On the western edge of Park Sanssouci is the Neues Palais (take a bus from the station or hire a bike, although make sure you book in advance on sunny weekends) and then I wandered through the park past the Orangerie, the Chinese House and on to Schloss Sansoucci, Mr the Great’s favourite palace.
Maybe because it was the first one I saw or maybe because it is actually the most impressive, the Neues Palais stands out for me. It’s huge, it’s imposing, it’s incredible that anyone needed so many palaces, but apparently they did, and it’s possibly even more impressive than Pemberley, although Mr Darcy would probably make a more accommodating flatmate than Fred.
But what is more impressive is just wandering around the park on a sunny day and enjoying a completely different experience to Berlin, each part of the park you come across is interesting in it’s own right, and I’m sure I missed loads even after going twice. So you should go and check it out, even on a short trip to Berlin.
Potsdam itself is a nice place to explore, have some drinks, some food, a spot of shopping, and generally relax. We had lunch at Backstolz (on Dorturstrasse, just off Brandenburger Strasse) which was really nice.
Imagine a combination of healthy herbs, flavoursome flowers, juicy fruits, alcoholic tipples and a little night music thrown in and you have London’s hottest pop-up cocktail bar.
Lovely Lottie, the ‘Cocktail Gardener’ has created a fabulous roof-top paradise with botanically-infused drinks straight from the garden.
Last year, Lottie completed a one-year horticultural course at Capel Manor with honours and was looking for a vacant plot she could transform.
She found the neglected circular plot on the roof of the Brunel Museum, just across the road from her home.
In spring, with the help of fellow students, Lottie transformed the plot into a beautiful, edible garden with six raised beds radiating out from a central sundial.
By day, this rooftop cottage kitchen garden can be visited and enjoyed by all, while on Saturday evenings in September, Lottie places shimmering, coloured birds and flares among the plants, puts out the deckchairs, takes off her gardening gloves and rustles up the most amazing ‘prescriptions’ – her cocktail creations.
Visitors sip divine drinks amongst the foliage; honey and basil daquiris, whisky mint juleps, raspberry mint martinis and lavender gin fizzes with lavender sprigs as swizzle sticks.
Lottie uses borage blossom as decoration and also creates inspired, imaginative – and potent – creations such as lovage with brandy, gin with thyme or chocolate mint in whisky.
As Lottie says ‘Although we use lots of herbs and flowers, our cocktails really pack a punch.’
The marvellous Midnight Apothecary will only last until the end of September, so visit soon and reap the benefits!
Midnight Apothecary is going on till Sat 29 Sept, but then they have two specials - for Halloween (Sat 27 Oct) and Bonfire night (Sat 3 Nov.) In between, Lottie will be doing the bar for the Royal Horticultural Society's harvest festival event on 9 October.
Free entry, cash bar
Every Saturday in September 5pm-10.30pm
Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue SE16 4LF
Nearest tube: Rotherhithe
Buses: C10, 188, 381
Tours of the Grand Entrance Hall at 7:30pm (£5)
Google map: bit.ly/RVPDWG
* Lucy is our Been there local for London. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-lucy-mallows.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/LucyRM.jsp
Sheffield Park gardens are my favourite as they are always changing with the seasons, so there’s always something different to see. There is wheelchair access and you can hire powered buggys so everyone is thought of. There is also now a lovely cafe and restaurant to stop in at. My best tip for visiting any of our wonderful gardens is, if you see a plant you like, take a picture of it, immediately followed by a picture of the plant label so you will know what to look for if you want one for your own space.
Sheffield Park, TN22 3QX
Google map: bit.ly/NHT6ak
Hestercombe Gardens offers a magical day going through three centuries of garden design. There is a seventeenth century mill, now restored, plus an eighteenth century picturesque hillside garden with several follies, and a stream running into a large pool. There is a Victorian terrace from which, looking down, one catches one's breath at 'The Great Plat', looking like a Moorish cushion. This is part of the design : the best of Hestercombe: made in the early twentieth century by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens. It is their garden masterpiece with its many levels, rills, water spouts, pergola and glorious planting. Hestercombe has a gallery, a super shop with plants as well, plus cafe. There are events throughout the year for both the family and garden history scholars. Most of the garden is accessible for wheeled users; a lift takes you to the ticket office and onto the path past the hillside, stream and pool – but you have to retrace your wheels to get into the Jekyll garden.
Perched above the Dee Estuary, with stunning views across to Wales, Ness Gardens nestle, a haven of tranquillity. Created by Cotton Merchant, Arthur Kilpin Bulley in 1898, who was responsible for introducing thousands of new plants into Britain, they are now maintained by Liverpool University and are still a major botanical centre involved in plant conservation. The gardens provide an extensive area of wonderfully varied planting, with south facing terraces and many water features. Finding a lovely picnic spot is easy, choosing is difficult.
Across the river Wye, Haddon Hall hides her Elizabethan jewel. Up stone steps, past the keep, through dim ancient rooms and out into the terraced garden with sweeping views of the lush Derbyshire countryside. Roses and clematis festoon the old brickwork,there is phlox, thyme and lavender for scent and echinacea, monarda and salvia are bee loud. Browse here a while amongst the topiaried yew and lavender knot garden and allow yourself to be drawn back in time.
Sissinghurst comprises 10 gardens created on derelict land by two writers Vita Sackville-West (she planted) and her husband Harold Nicolson (he planned), around romantic, mellow pink brick Tudor buildings high on the Kent Weald. What she called “rooms open to the sky” are intimate gardens, each with its own character, enclosed by old walls and hedges, each planted differently by colour or theme. Long, linking walks make for a satisfying unity.
These stunning Baroque gardens (justly described as world famous) provide a powerful, and rare, evocation of the Italian Renaissance. Constructed in 1685 they fall away behind the majestic mediaeval structure of Powis Castle, home to the Earls of Powis (and once to Clive of India).
The steep terracing, ornamented with mighty urns, lead statuary and clipped yew, and planted to resemble hanging gardens, drops to a valley floor of formal flower gardens and lawns.
On the opposite side of the castle, the entrance to the charming, rolling parkland, full of crafty vistas, and populated by deer, can be found on Welshpool High Street. A walk through the park costs nothing but the castle and gardens are now owned and maintained by the National Trust which offers the usual visitor facilities.
These most rare and beautiful gardens, which are still undergoing rediscovery and restoration at Aberglasney House. Langathen, Camarthenshire, date back at least to Elizabethan times and possibly to the thirteenth century. They are set in the fabulous Tywi valley just off the A40 near the little town of Llandeilo (itself well worth visiting.)
The ten acres at Aberglasney include an Elizabethan/ Jacobean cloister garden, a pool garden, walled gardens, woodlands, an unusual parapet walk, a yew tunnel and, in a pleasing nod to the gardens at Ninfa near Rome, the Ninfarium, an inner garden built within the central ruins of the house.
We went in March 2011, just before the rush of spring growth, but even so early in the season the plants were wonderful and the finely drawn structure of this lovely garden was apparent.
Delicious cakes in the cafe and an appealing gift shop complete the visit.
As a bonus for the energetic, you are not far from the National Gardens of Wales.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org