From one of the largest winter gardens in the UK to an industrial garden landscape, the National Trust gardens in the north west provide an invigorating escape in January and February.
Enjoy a refreshing walk amongst bright winter flowers, invigorating scents, colourful stems and eye-catching topiary.
Here’s just some of the highlights at National Trust gardens in Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire.
Dunham Massey, Altrincham
This seven-acre Winter Garden is one of the largest in the UK. It’s filled with over a thousand winter shrubs, trees and evergreens which have all been chosen for their scent, colour and texture. The thousands of bulbs that spring to life form carpets of snowdrops, daffodils and cyclamen. 30,000 extra daffodil bulbs were planted last spring in preparation for a stunning yellow display this winter. There’s plenty more colour with the yellow flowers of witch hazel, purple berries of Callicarpa and the pink winter daphnes.
Quarry Bank, Wilmslow, Cheshire
This garden surrounds a once bustling 18th century cotton mill. Spot the red bark of cornas alba in the upper walled garden bringing a flash of colour on a dull winter day. Recently planted bulbs by the river include Picea glauca ‘Daiseys White’ and Juniperus squamata ‘Feeling Blue.’ Hazel trees are in flower to the west of the walled garden and there are full carpets of snowdrops to spot.
The 1,400-acre grounds at Lyme are a mixture of formal gardens, ancient woodland and rugged moors. Try visiting on a frosty morning when the windswept moorland backdrop and views of Lyme from the garden terrace are at their most dramatic. The grand house forms a reflection in the lake in front of it and the Orangery is a year-round indoor oasis of tropical planting and a warm spot on a cold day. The first winter plants to peep through here are winter iris and snowdrops.
Hare Hill, Macclesfield
Step inside a tranquil wooded garden surrounded by historic parkland and see plenty of white blooms all year round. On warmer days it’s the perfect spot to while away an afternoon with a picnic in the Walled Garden, a tranquil place to pause and escape the hustle and bustle. The ornamental rockery was once a secret garden and after restoration work you can now twist and turn your way through it. [Re-opening 14 February].
Little Moreton Hall, Congleton
This topsy-turvy home is surrounded by a moat which is home to plenty of wildlife, including tufted ducks and moorhens. The garden might be small but there’s plenty to see, as native flowers as well as early introductions from the continent grow here. The recently restored Knot Garden is based on a Tudor quatrefoil design, and the garden team have worked hard to restore it. Come and see the results and other conservation efforts happening in the outdoors. [Re-opening 14 February].
Speke Hall, Liverpool
50,000 bulbs that were planted in 2021 by volunteers are about to create a huge display of late winter flowers, including a sea of white snowdrops in January and purple crocuses in February. Take the path around the old moat to check out the tall evergreen topiary and if you’re lucky you may spot a handful of blooms popping up in the Rose Garden.
Rufford Old Hall, Ormskirk, Lancashire
One of the lowest lying National Trust gardens in England, Rufford is home to colourful borders, manicured lawns, an orchard and a relaxed woodland filled with snowdrops at this time of year. It runs alongside the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Don’t miss the two giant topiary squirrels close to the house – they glisten in the frost on a cool winter morning. [Reopening on 9 February]
For more garden inspiration visit National Trust’s website here.