A riot of colour on the Winter Walk


Selection of Anglesey Abbey snowdrop varieties for sale

Anglesey Abbey is a well known destination for galanthophiles in East Anglia and its extensive, landscaped displays of over 300 varieties of snowdrops are well worth a visit in February. This year though, due to the usually warm winter weather, the snowdrops are out early and the National Trust’s usual celebratory festival has been brought forward. In fact, it starts tomorrow.

However, when we visited yesterday our main focus was to see the Winter Walk in some beautiful, golden sunlight (and discovering a good hellebore and snowdrop display was a bonus).


Meandering through the Winter Walk at Anglesey Abbey

The winter garden was developed in 1998 to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Lord Fairhaven, who donated house and garden to the National Trust.  It is a narrow enclosed area, running for some 450m with a wide sepentine pathway meandering its way through an impressive selection of ~160 different plants selected to maximise winter colour and fragrance. It ends with the show-stopping Himalayan silver birch grove.


These birch trees are power-washed annually to make sure that those trunks gleam in the winter sunshine.


A different view of the famous Himalayan silver birch grove

Last year, in a future-proofing exercise, an extension to this grove was planted with a further 112 Himalayan birch trees.


Newly planted birch extension

These are expected to come into their own in about 10 years and will initially double the size of the existing planting. Longer term, this addition is looking forward to a time when regeneration work will need to be carried out on the older trees.

Over the years the Winter Garden it has turn into a phenomenally colourful tapestry of bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees.


Prunus serrula shines through the weft of Rubus cockburnianus, Cornus ‘Winter Beauty’, C. alba and hellebores

Scents hit you in waves as you pass stands of viburnum, lonicera, wintersweet, mahonia and sweetbox. There are brilliant planting combinations in small dells.

There is high contrast in the selections of ground-cover grasses and shrubs.


Carex ‘Evergold’, Ophiopogon ‘Nigrescens’, Miscanthus, rubus and dogwood

Bark on more established trees adds drama against blue skies:


Cornus ‘Flaviramea’ stands rigid in front of Acer ‘Sango-kaku’ (Coral-barked maple) with mahonia providing a dark backdrop

Eruptions of coppiced, startling-yellow willow burst from the low blends of narcissus and mahonia


Salix ‘Vitellina’ erupts from a tapestry of carex and Mahonia ‘Apollo’

We continued our walk past that wonderful facade of poplars lining the canal that feeds Lode Mill


It is worth taking the detours through the woodlands which are filled with snowdrops, hellebore and small birds.

Here, catching the sun, there was outstanding colour from the only dark hellebore that I saw in flower yet.


Just beautiful!

We really enjoyed the Winter Walk again and there has been a considerable amount of replanting and renovation along the path adding new interest.

However, whilst there were a good number of bulbs in flower at Anglesey Abbey already, the best is yet to come. Of course, so then will the queues and crowds.


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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22 Responses to A riot of colour on the Winter Walk

  1. It’s great fun to hear about the places you visit. A garden trip is my favorite activity and reading about one is nearly as good.

  2. Chloris says:

    A wonderful place to visit in winter. Funnily enough we were going to go there yesterday but it was so cold when we got up that we changed our minds. When did you go?

    • We were there on Saturday, so we almost met! It is a lovely place to go and they’ve worked hard to make it interesting year round. We picked up a leaflet describing walks on the other side of the mill-race, so next time we will be donning wellies and the like. You are right though, it was quite freezing.

  3. Julie says:

    We are heading there yesterday too and ended up on another section of the Greensand ridge instead. It looks as if you had fantastic weather, was that Friday?

  4. jenhumm116 says:

    Lovely photos – thanks for sharing. Anglesy Abbey’s definitely on my list of gardens to visit. Even more so now!

  5. nexi says:

    Lovely photos – I remember buying flour at Lode Mill some years ago!

  6. pbmgarden says:

    What a treasure. The winter walk looked lovely in the sunlight. The thought of power-washing a tree would never have occurred to me, but the grove is delightful.

    • It is an inspiration, not least because there are no forsythias, pink flowering currant or heathers to be seen. OK they do have some ribes (eg ribes laurifolium), but it is subtle. Plus the whole walk evolves and they are not afraid to make changes.

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, what a marvelous place to visit – lucky you! I’ve taken a few ideas from this post – thank you!

  8. Tina says:

    Powe washing trees–I think I’ve heard it all now. 🙂 Your photos are beautiful. I especially like the second photo of the pathway and the birch trees all reaching for that gorgeous blue sky.

    • I would quite like to see them do the power washing actually, I bet it looks hilarious. Thanks for your comment about the photos. Blue skies and golden sunlight make everything glow and look wonderful.

  9. What a fabulously interesting winter garden-thanks for sharing it.

    • It is one of the best. They have planted it with considerable flair and they do change things around. The birch for instance, have been under planted with various things, but are now emerging from bare (but mulched) soil.

  10. Christina says:

    Sounds wonderful, I visited ages ago quite soon after it was created, the silver birches were behind a fence then if I remember under-planted with black salix, I loved it.

  11. The grove can look surreal with the sun on it, but it is very beautiful and of course much copied. I am glad that they are future-proofing it. I don’t remember black salix, but that must have looked stunning. I think I remember bergenia ground cover at some point and it is nice to see the variations.

  12. Pingback: It’s a beautiful day and I can’t stop myself from smiling … | Frogend dweller's Blog

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