Bee Palace

Winter gardens to visit over the Christmas week

December 22nd, 2016


As we get ever closer to the Christmas holiday, we just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017. It’s been our pleasure meeting you all at craft shows, garden fairs and through messages via our website – thank you!

If you’re hankering for some winter colour between Christmas and New Year, here are some of the gardens on our to-visit (or ‘have visited’) lists – each offering something to brighten up the winter days, whether it’s by spectacular light shows, clever planting, or simply nature at it’s finest. It can’t hurt that these all also give you an excuse to walk off those extra mince pies as well!

We look forward to seeing you in the New Year and wish you a very peaceful holiday.

Nick & Duncan

Christmas Glow at RHS Wisley, Surrey

Wisley is a treat at anytime of year, but they have created a really wonderful excuse to wrap up warm and leave the house over Christmas, with a beautiful illuminated display that obviously comes into its own after dusk. There’s a good cafe on site, a Christmas display in the glasshouse and a walk celebrating the beauty of tree bark, so lots to see.

Open until 8pm (5pm on Christmas Eve); Adult tickets from £11.70, family tickets from £29.90 (RHS members go free)

RHS Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB

Kew Gardens


The glasshouses at Kew are a massive draw whatever the season, but there’s something really magical about visiting places like this after the sun has set. The illuminated trail that winds its way through the grounds is open until January 2. It’s a family-friendly affair, and can get quite busy, but perhaps the hustle and bustle all adds to the atmosphere.

If you pop along earlier in the day, there’s still lots to see, with family craft activities and an exhibition celebrating the influence of Japanese flora and fauna. There are free guided tours of the gardens throughout the year (although not on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day) at 11am and 1.30pm and places are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Open daily from 10am (closed Christmas Eve & Christmas Day) gardens close at 4.15. The seasonal lights run from 5 until 10pm. Ticket prices vary depending on what you’re planning to see, so visit the website for more information

Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AE .

Blenheim Palace


Light trails seem to be all the rage this year, so maybe it’s all about choosing the particular setting that appeals to you. Let’s not forget: 2016 was the 300th anniversary of the birth of the eminent landscape designer Capability Brown, and as Blenheim was one of his masterpieces it’s a rather special opportunity to visit this very iconic garden.

The mile long sensory light trail (which lasts about an hour) takes you through the magnificent grounds and, even if you’re familiar with the planting, are likely to make you see Capability’s design in a completely new way.

The event isn’t covered by the Blenheim annual pass, so unfortunately even if you have a season ticket, it won’t grant you free entry. Tickets start from £16 per adult (family tickets from £48) and there are of course more details on the website.

Blenheim Palace,Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP

Mottisfont Abbey


The winter garden does have the tendency to be somewhat overlooked and left to its own devices, but over the past few years there’s definitely been a trend towards actively creating gardens that are interesting to look throughout the year. Mottisfont, the charming National Trust house in the Test Valley, started to create its winter garden in 2009 and now it’s a wonderful place to explore during the colder months.

If the idea of a stroll through a garden in the middle of winter proves to be a hard sell to members of your party, in typical National Trust style there are plenty of other things to occupy other interests, with various trails to follow (this year the house is decorated around the theme of the 12 days of Christmas song), history to delve into, and yes, a coffee shop to warm up in after.

Open daily 10-5 (Not Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). National Trust members go free, adults from £13.60, family from £34, see website for more details.

Mottisfont, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 0LP

The Eden Project


If you’re lucky enough to be in the west country over the Christmas period, you’re in for an extra treat should you visit the Eden Project at dusk. The huge laser light show (on between 5 and 7pm 27, 28 & 29 December) sounds intriguing enough, but illuminated trails which wind through the rainforest domes, as well as various Christmas activities and ice skating sound positively enticing. Normal admission applies (extra charge for ice skating) from £22.50 for adults, £69 for a family, but see their website for advance offers and more information)

Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG

Lost Gardens of Heligan


Just a hop skip and jump from Eden, the sublime gardens at Heligan are open for charity on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, with a suggested donation of £2 going towards local charities. Whilst the branches may be bare, the wealth of wildlife more than makes up for it: it’s a perfect place to see nuthatches, woodpeckers and even the very elusive kingfisher. If you’ve never visited, there are much worse ways to spend a festive afternoon – the grounds and history are totally beguiling.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN 

Whatever you find yourself doing this Christmas, we hope you have a wonderful break – see you in 2017!


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