Our Winter Garden is now two years old – it opened to the public in New Year 2013 and is already putting on an amazing show.
It’s come a long way in that short time. New plants have bulked up, bulbs have spread and while there are still tweaks to be made and gaps to be filled the riot of colours, shapes, textures and scents on display should inspire anyone looking out on their own back gardens right now.
Our winter garden was four years in the planning and two years in the making. At a cost of £35,000, it has been a major investment but is already paying off; it attracted 10,000 visitors in its opening three months and was so popular that, instead of closing the area to the public in March as originally planned, we have kept the ropes down all year.
The garden team launching the Winter Garden in January 2013
The area lies at the south-east fringes of The Terraces. It is believed to have been an Edwardian rockery but in recent memory it had become a densely overgrown forest of azaleas and rhododendrons which remained closed to the public, as seen in this old photo below. In the course of renovation work, shrubs were cut hard back and some removed, revealing the remains of alpine plants and stone beds.
In redesigning the area former head gardener Troy Smith retained the tall Lawson Cypress to give structure and height to the planting scheme. Many of the old shrubs such as rhododendrons and camellia were retained while some others like struggling and overgrown were azaleas cut back. Other taller plants were added such as the the white birches Betula utlis and the silky red cherry Prunus serrula, for their stunning coloured bark.
Forming the middle level of the planting scheme are shrubs such as hamamelis, daphne and sarcococca for scent, viburnum and camellia for flower, cornus and rubus for glowing stems and skimmia for berries. Below this was added a lower layer of small shrubs and herbaceous plants including red leaved bergenia and pittosporum, arching grasses and ferns, heathers and hellebores, interplanted with bulbs such as snowdrops, iris, cyclamen and crocus. Where possible we used propagated plants from our own nursery but many were also bought in – in all there are around 350 varieties of plants in the winter garden, and 10,000 new plants in total.
The result has been…well, you can see for yourself in these latest photos, taken for us by local photographer Joe Wainwright…a sight to delight on any winter day: