The Winter Garden displays a diverse range of plants to dramatic visual and sensory effect. Developed in 1979 by Garden Superintendent Peter Orriss and Garden Supervisor Norman Villis, the Winter Garden has long provided a winter focal point for our visitors, and has continued to serve as a source of inspiration for amateur and professional horticulturists alike.
“It teaches gardeners new lessons and it delights those who simply want a bright walk on a clear winter day.”
Robin Lane Fox, Financial Times
With the onset of winter this seasonal planting comes into its own, bringing colourful tints to brighten the gloomiest day. To enhance the plantings the site was sculpted to provide topographical interest in our flat landscape, and consideration was given to the orientation of the Garden to ensure that low winter sun caught stems to intensify colours. It is no happy accident that the boundary hedges provide an evergreen backdrop to the coloured stems and plant forms, while also capturing the many scents of winter flowers.
At the western entrance the Nepalese Paper Plant ‘Jacqueline Postill’ (Daphne bholua) bears pink-flushed blooms, while its heady fragrance fills the air. Opposite, the intense red stems of Siberian Dogwood ‘Sibirica’ (Cornus alba) provide striking vertical contrast to an underplanting of Elephant’s Ear ‘Bressingham Ruby’ (Bergenia). Beyond, Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and Winter Aconite (Eranthis tubergenii) produce a contrasting mat beneath the arching stems of Bramble ‘Goldenvale’ (Rubus). At the western end of the Winter Garden the flaky cinnamon-coloured stem of the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) emerges amidst the orange stems of Bloody Dogwood ‘Midwinter Fire’ (Cornus sanguinea), and the spined stems of the Japanese Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius).
There is much to admire in this winter palette. A delightful array of colours, forms, textures and scents continue to provide an array of interest. The experience is enhanced by timing your visit to coincide with a bright, sunny winter day, when colours are lifted and perfumes ever-more pronounced.
The Winter Garden on TV
Adam Frost and the BBC Gardeners’s World team featured the Winter Garden in their 2021/22 Winter Special. Adam filmed with CUBG’s recently retired Pete Kerley, who has worked in the Winter Garden since it was first designed in 1979. In the feature, Adam and Pete discuss its history, planting and design.
In January 2022, we were delighted to welcome Michael Perry from Steph’s Packed Lunch to the Winter Garden. Please enjoy this video below where he and Head of Horticulture, Sally Petitt, explore the Garden and discuss what makes it so special.