Anglesey Abbey Launches Three-year Winter Garden Refresh Project

Published on November 14th 2019
Many of us mark our 21st birthday with a special celebration bigger than any other and the same is true for Anglesey Abbey’s Winter Garden. The National Trust owned site is set to be transformed by 2023.
Image by Rod Edwards
21 years after the official opening, the renowned Winter Garden is embarking on a three-year project to refresh and breathe a new lease of life into the space. Formerly named the Fairhaven Centenary Walk, the garden features approximately 150 plant species selected for their winter colours, scents and textures. These include white birches, vibrant dogwoods, sweet winter-scented honeysuckle and one of the largest snowdrop collections in the country.
Image by Rod Edwards
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‘Over time, some of the planting has got to the end of its life,’ explain The National Trust, ‘as a result the garden is now in need of a little bit of attention.’
Described as one of the finest winter gardens in the country, preparations are underway in the hope to revitalise plantings and key points along the 450m-long route in Cambridge. Meanwhile, the resurfacing and edging of paths, soil improvement and removing outgrown plants has already begun in addition to new plants being researched, sourced and grown, all in peat-free media. The garden team, led by Acting Head Gardener David Jordan, are the driving force behind this ambitious project.
Image by Jonathan Buckley
David says: ‘We are taking the opportunity of the 21st anniversary to kickstart a three-year plan to re-think several areas. The garden was densely planted to create impact and, two decades on, some of the original planting schemes have outgrown their space.
‘We want to create new layers, including shrubs and bulbs, that will keep the Winter Garden — one of the garden’s most loved areas — beautiful for future generations.
Image by Marianne Majerus
‘[Since] the garden’s instigation, there’s a much wider palette of exciting plants to choose from,’ he adds, ‘so rather than replace like for like, we’ll be challenging ourselves to find new and interesting plants.’
While plant selection is ongoing, new additions are set to include large-flowered Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’, early-flowering Narcissus, honey-scented Galanthus ‘Magnet,’ plus a range of ferns and four witch hazel and dogwood selections. Along with conifers (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’), topiary Pittosporum will be introduced to the garden for the first time.
Image by Rod Edwards
Plants that are at their best during winter, when colour is in short supply, are what makes this specially designed Winter Garden attractive during this season. However, it makes a delightful walk at any time of the year.
David claims the walk’s most successful combinations have been mixtures of trees and shrubs underplanted with smaller winter-interest plants, such as Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ underplanted with Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and Acer griseum as a focal point.
Image by Arnhel de Serra
The garden was planted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the first Lord Fairhaven, who left Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust in 1966. Former Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, then opened the garden on 5 November 1998 by planting a giant redwood at the start of the route.
During the refresh, the garden will remain open to visitors. Gardeners will also be available, on selected days, to answer questions about the project.
A close up of a flower
David adds: ‘Visitors will notice that preparation work has begun, with some areas already cleared to make way for new and exciting plants. As with all gardens, new plants will take some time to settle in, but we’re looking forward to enhancing the garden so that it can keep brightening winter days for the next 21 years and beyond.’
The project is being part-funded by money raised through the property’s 2019 Special Places Raffle, with fundraising set to continue until January. You can make a donation and also pick up a garden inspired pin badge during your visit for a suggested £1 donation to help keep Anglesey Abbey’s gardens blooming.
David shares 10 star plants of the Winter Garden:
  • Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’
  • Chimonanthus praecox ‘Luteus’
  • Lonicera × purpusii
  • Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna
  • Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis
  • Sarcococca saligna
  • Cornus sanguinea ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’
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