Glorious Christmas gardens in the region
PUBLISHED: 10:44 23 December 2013 | UPDATED: 10:44 23 December 2013
We all want to let off some steam over the Christmas break and plenty of gardens are open for a good old romp around in the fresh air if cabin fever strikes
The National Trust knows what it is doing when it comes to landscape gardens and there are brisk trails through the woods at Cliveden near Maidenhead. You can pick up local holly, mistletoe and Christmas trees, and visit Father Christmas there, too. Father Christmas Trail is on Saturdays 7, 14, 21 and Sundays 8, 15, 22 December,10am to 3.30pm; Wednesdays 4, 11, 18 December 10am to 1pm. Normal admission charges apply plus £5 per child for the trail and visit to Father Christmas (including gift). No booking required.
Near Buckingham, Stowe also offers landscaped magnificence and statuary and you should be able to clock up some serious miles along the trails.
If you’d prefer to take your fresh air without a walk, the Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park, is offering a horse and carriage ride. Santa is on-site and, with free entry in December, you can enjoy the fine winter planting of mahonias and dogwoods as often as you like. On a smaller but no less pleasing scale, Waterperry Garden near Oxford is opening for only the second time over Christmas, for (hopefully frosty) riverside walks and games of ‘find the reindeer’.
There is also plenty for the botanists amongst us. Kew Gardens, Surrey, is one of my favourite places to visit at any time of year but in winter the glasshouses are a bonus if the weather is inclement. If you go and the weather has been mild, check out the rock garden where early snowdrops may already be making an appearance.
Or take a trip to what is believed to be the largest winter garden in Europe at the Hillier Garden, Romsey, Hampshire. Covering three acres and containing 650 different plants grown for their winter effect, it should provide plenty of ideas to take home.
Stowe: Open daily throughout December, 10am to 4pm (closed 24th and 25th December). Special activities for families on 14/15 and 21/22 December. T 01280 817156, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe
Cliveden: Open daily, 10am to 4pm, (closed Christmas Day) until the end of the year. T 01628 605069, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/Cliveden
Savill Garden: open 10am to 4.30pm with last entry at 4pm. open 10am to 4.30pm with last entry at 4pm. T 01784 435544, www.theroyallandscape.co.uk
Waterperry: Christmas opening from the 27th to 30th December, 10am to 4pm. Closed from the 31st December, reopens on Thursday 3rd January 2014.T01844 339226, www.waterperrygardens.co.uk
Kew: Open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 9:30am to 4.15pm (from 27 Oct). Last entry at 3.45pm. www.kew.org
Hiller Gardens: Open November–March from 10am–5pm (last entry 4pm), T 01794 369317/318, www.hants.gov.uk/hilliergardens. Times may vary, check websites for details.