Stunning New Winter Garden At Wakehurst
A stunning new Winter Garden has been planted at Wakehurst in Ardingly, West Sussex. Launched on 23rd January 2019, the garden is the perfect place to chase away the winter blues.
Long nights and dull, cold winter days – it’s enough to give anyone cabin fever! Once the temperatures drop, it’s so easy not to make the effort to leave the house unless you have too.
But, if you are brave enough to pull on a warm coat and scarf and head outside, you will be richly rewarded. Exercise, especially in a beautiful and natural environment, has been shown to lift the spirits, clear the mind, and make you feel relaxed and refreshed.
And this is exactly what garden designers set out to do when planning the new Winter Garden at Wakehurst.
Planted by horticulturists and volunteers in early 2018, the beauty of the Winter Garden is now emerging – shimmering bark, soft foliage and rich scents.
As you set off on the winding path, you will encounter an incredible 33,000 plants across 5,500 square metres. Flowers and shrubs are woven together with mature trees, creating a stunning blast of colour against a wintery landscape.
Mature Himalayan birch trees (Betula utilis var jacquemontianii) take centre stage. Their dramatic white trunks rise resplendent to the sky and are interspersed with the coppery gleam of the Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula tibetica). Within this canopy,the rich fragrance of Daphne and witch hazel, placed close to path edges, will make you smile as you breathe in their perfume.
You will also love the texture and colour that comes from massed blocks of Cornus (including the cultivars ‘Midwinter Fire’ and ‘Bud’s Yellow’), succulent bronze Bergenia and soft, feather-like Calamagrostis and hellebores. Swathes of cyclamen, grasses, snowdrops and crocuses will also compete for your attention.
At certain parts of the Winter Garden you can see nothing but plants and sky – you will feel completely immersed and cocooned by nature. Take a seat on the large, locally crafted, curved oak bench, and find the perfect place to relax.
The garden was designed by Wakehurst’s Horticulturalist Francis Annette, who took his inspiration from the South Downs. Francis explained: “My thought process began with the word ‘wild’ – after all, we are Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex. I wanted to create a feeling of expanse and openness as experienced in many winter landscapes, and for there to be open vistas that allow the eye to see through and beyond.
He added: “I noticed that in nature the visual impact comes from large numbers of only a few varieties of trees and shrubs– less is most definitely more.’
The Winter Garden is a great place to draw inspiration for your own garden – or even window box. As you leave refreshed, uplifted and rejuvenated, you will be inspired to give your garden at home an injection of winter passion!
Wakehurst is run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
For more information on Wakehurst or to plan your visit, see kew.org/wakehurst
Photography: Jim Holden & Rachel Warne