The birch grove at Anglesey Abbey

The birch grove at Anglesey Abbey

The world-famous winter walk at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire was one of the first of its kind in recent times, and now attracts some 400,000 visitors per year. “When it comes to creating a winter garden, working on a large scale certainly helps,” says Garden & Outdoor Manager Andrew Myson. “Our winter walk is a meandering path that winds between constantly changing views; in a smaller garden it’s more a case of placing plants for best impact.

“Our birch grove is one of the highlights (right). We use Himalayan birches Betula utilis jacquemontii, but you could use smaller multi-stem specimens to achieve a similar effect. 

“It’s important to consider the setting for your plants when planning. In our birch grove we have a backdrop
of yew hedging that helps to set off the white trunks perfectly, though you could use a dark wall or fence instead.

“One very striking plant that works well on a smaller scale is the twisted hazel, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’. With careful placing it can be so intriguing to look at, especially when you plant attractive companion plants underneath for a splash of winter colour. 

“Choosing the right companions is key. We use a wide variety of plants – bergenia, cyclamen, pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’, Vinca minor, pachysandra, and the pink tulip ‘Little Beauty’. One of our successful combinations is Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ planted around and through Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’. This combination gives visual impact right through the winter months.”

LOCATION Quy Road, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ OPEN Daily except 24-26 December, 10am-4.30pm. Gardens £8.50, NT members free CONTACT 01223 810080;