8 December 2021

Best things to do at Wakehurst this winter

Our roundup of the seasonal highlights at Wakehurst this winter.

By Grace Brewer , Katie Avis-Riordan and Ellen McHale

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. 

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
Cornus alba Sibirica, Chris Clennett © RBG Kew
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’ © RBG Kew

Experience Wakehurst at home

Take home a memento of your day out with loved ones, and create your very own winter garden at home.

Shop our bespoke winter collection in our Plant Centre to introduce the best seasonal performers to your garden.

Have a special someone's birthday or anniversary coming up? Our Visitor Centre shop has lots of great gift ideas including local, sustainable and ethical products.

Better still, you could even gift a membership to Wakehurst.

Person wondering around outside amongst plants
Plant Centre at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

Treat yourself

Grab a take-away hot drink and snack from our Stables Pantry to warm up as you walk. 

Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or savour a scrumptious slice of cake.

Cakes at Wakehurst
Cakes at Wakehurst © RBG Kew

Spot wildlife 

The gardens are alive with wildlife, even during the colder months. Trees that are bare of leaves mean birds and animals are easier to spot. 

Listen for the drumming sound of great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) marking their territory. You can also spot roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) who like to hunt for nutritious bramble shoots. 

Even if you find yourself at Wakehurst on a rainy day, there will still be plenty of wildlife about — keep your eyes peeled for wet-weather-loving animals like frogs, toads, ducks and snails.

Wildlife lovers should head to our Loder Valley Nature Reserve, a 150-acre haven of flora and fauna.

Can you spot any kingfishers or herons among the mix of wetlands, meadows and woodland here?

Close up of a kingfisher perched on a branch
Kingfisher in Loder Valley Nature Reserve, Steve Robinson© 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.

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

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

Get winter walking

Prefer a wilder adventure? Then set out to explore our quieter and more untamed areas. Pick up a winter guide on arrival and spot seasonal highlights on your walk. 

Trek down the valley through the Himalayan Glade to Westwood Lake.

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 breath-taking Sussex scenery.

Wakehurst landscape
Wakehurst landscape © RBG Kew
Children playing at Wakehurst

Visit Wakehurst

Whether you are a regular visitor or planning your first trip to Wakehurst, find out how you can make the most of your day.

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