11 December 2019

Best things to do at Wakehurst this winter

Our roundup of the seasonal highlights at Wakehurst this winter.

By Katie Avis-Riordan

It may be winter but there are still so many great things to do and see in our wild botanic garden here in Sussex.

Explore our wintry woodlands, immerse yourself in our stunning Winter Garden and warm up with tasty treats in our restaurant.

Wander in our Winter Garden

Bursting with seasonal colour, our Winter Garden is the perfect place to take a stroll during the colder months at Wakehurst.

Notice the rich fragrances, dazzling blooms and beautiful tree barks as you walk along the winding garden path.

It’s home to Himalayan silver birch trees (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) with their gleaming white trunks, witch hazel (Hamamelis) oozing an enticing perfume, dainty white snowdrops (Galanthus) and Siberian dogwood (Cornus alba 'Sibirica') with its striking fiery hues.

The garden looks particularly enchanting with a dusting of frost on chilly mornings.

The Mansion Gardens in frost
The Mansion Gardens in frost © Clive Nichols
Cornus alba Sibirica, Siberian dogwood
Cornus alba Sibirica, Siberian dogwood, Chris Clennett © RBG Kew
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’ © RBG Kew

Treat yourself

Warm up in our Stables restaurant with some delicious food and drink.

Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, tuck into our range of tasty cooked food or savour a scrumptious slice of cake.

As a Stables winter treat from 1 January to 29 February 2020, children can enjoy a hot lunchtime meal for £1 with one full paying adult main meal.

Cakes at Wakehurst
Cakes at Wakehurst © RBG Kew

Admire the trees

Winter is a brilliant season to see the magnificent natural architecture of leafless deciduous trees.

Head down to Bethlehem Wood to see the stark beauty of Wakehurst’s National Collection of birch trees (Betula).

Their peeling bark and multi-coloured trunks are a spectrum of shades, from dark brown to silvery white.

For evergreen colour, journey through the beautiful conifers in the secluded Pinetum.

The majestic Apache pine (Pinus engelmanii), Taiwania and plum pine (Podocarpus) are some of the treasures living here.

Can you find the sika deer stag carving in the trunk of a Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)?

Artist Masa Suzuki carved the design into the tree's storm-damaged trunk in 2013 as part of a Japanese-British collaboration.

In this traditional Japanese style of carving, known as Tachigi-bori, the trunk of a living tree is engraved but the bark is allowed to slowly grow back over the design to reflect the passing of time.

Venture to Coates Wood to spot the beautiful evergreen Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) and Eucalyptus.

Wollemi pines, Coates wood, Wakehurst
Wollemi pines growing in Coates wood, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

Visit Surviving or Thriving

Escape the chill and step inside our fascinating Surviving or Thriving exhibition in the Millennium Seed Bank Atrium.

Our State of the World’s Plants reports are brought to life here through film, sound, models, interactive games and a futuristic garden.

Learn about the threats and challenges plants are facing and why some are thriving and others just surviving.

Surviving or Thriving exhibition, Wakehurst © Jim Holden/RBG Kew
Surviving or Thriving exhibition, Wakehurst © Jim Holden/RBG Kew

Join us for a guided tour

Embrace the crisp winter air and take part in one of our daily guided walking tours around the gardens.

Discover Wakehurst's stories and secrets from our expert guides.

Learn about our stunning winter plants, explore the ornamental gardens close to the Mansion, and find out about the intriguing history of the house and gardens.

Icy Mansion Pond at Wakehurst
Icy Mansion Pond at Wakehurst © RBG Kew

Get winter walking

Prefer a wilder adventure? Then set out to explore our quieter and more untamed areas.

Trek down the valley through Himalayan Glade to Westwood Lake.

You can go even further afield and get closer to wildlife at our Loder Valley Nature Reserve.

Breathe in the fresh air. Raise your heart rate on the hilly terrain. And soak up the silence.

Look out for the fantastic panoramic views as you go. The bare trees open up the landscape so you can really appreciate the undulating hills and deep valleys of the breathtaking Sussex scenery.

Children playing at Wakehurst

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