Visit Britain's best winter garden for a new year wake-up call

pathway through the Winter Garden, Hillier's Gardens, Hampshire, UK
Winter Garden, Hillier's Gardens, Hampshire, UK Credit: Kevin Freeborn/ Alamy

“New Year’s Eve is off. We have had a fire.” That was the email I got from my friends, David and Isabelle, at the end of 2016. Though half their thatched and beamy Vicar-of-Dibley cottage is still a shell, they were determined to bring in 2018 with corks popping.

So I started the New Year in deepest Hampshire. There isn’t much flowering in their garden, as there isn’t in mine, but I like the warm marquetry pattern of dessicated ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea heads, coppery Iris sibirica leaves, and parchment-pale grasses through their borders. The vegetable garden is sporting silvery globe artichokes, blue-green ‘Autumn Giant’ leeks, and clipped balls of myrtle (the small-leaved variety – M. tarentina...

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