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Gardens to visit in Surrey this winter

PUBLISHED: 18:05 16 December 2013 | UPDATED: 18:05 16 December 2013

Follow the winter trail at RHS Garden Wisley

Follow the winter trail at RHS Garden Wisley

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We may be in the icy grip of winter, but there are still several gardens that remain open across Surrey, and many of them have an added sparkle at this time of year

The Savill Garden

One of Britain’s finest ornamental gardens, the Savill Garden brings together a variety of surprisingly colourful and fragrant plants during winter – from the luminous stems of vermillion dogwoods and golden willows to the fine displays of the national collection of mahonias with their sulphur blooms.

In contrast with the hardy plants outside, there are also seasonal displays to be enjoyed in the Queen Elizabeth Temperate House.

The festive period is marked by a special visit from Father Christmas that can be booked each weekend during December starting from Saturday December 7 up to Sunday December 22. The restaurant also serves delicious festive treats and there are atmospheric horse and carriage rides through the Royal Landscape on weekends in December until Sunday December 22.

Need to know: Savill Garden, Englefield Green TW20 0UU. Entrance is free throughout the month of December. Winter opening times: 10am to 6pm. To book tickets to see Father Christmas or for one of the carriage rides, call 01784 435544. More info @ theroyallandscape.co.uk.

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Painshill Park

This lovely 18th century, Grade I listed landscape is wonderful for a stroll throughout the seasons, with over 80,000 visitors each year enjoying the restored beauty.

Created by plantsman, painter and designer Charles Hamilton between 1738 and 1773 as a romantic landscape inspired by his Grand Tour, it has continued to inspire visitors with dreamy vistas across the 14-acre lake and a charming collection of follies.

The silhouettes of trees against the sky and the eye-catching buildings, such as crossing the Chinese bridge to the white Gothic temple with grotto, especially when dusted in light snow, are particularly memorable views (* For a special feature on the newly restored grotto at Painshill Park, turn to page 36).

Need to know: Painshill, Cobham KT11 1JE. Winter opening times: 11am to 4pm. Admission: Adults £6, concessions £5.80, children £3.85. Become a member of Painshill and enjoy free access (also includes two-for-one entry at partner attractions such as Loseley Park and Denbies Wine Estate as well as discounted tickets to selected special events). Single membership, £30; joint membership, £45; family membership, £60. More info @ painshill.co.uk.

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The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Take a bracing walk through these famous gardens, making sure that you see the winter garden with its coloured cornus and willow stems, striking foliage, shrubs and flowers. Then warm up afterwards with a hot drink or meal in the café or restaurant.

Something extra special this year is Christmas at Kew, running from Thursday November 28 to Saturday January 4, when the gardens will also be open at night, lit up with an enchanted landscape of light, sound and colour, creating a magical experience.

A one-mile illuminated trail will guide visitors through Kew’s unique tree collections, lit to highlight the skeletal structural beauty of deciduous trees in winter. Along the way, discover patterned lanterns lighting textural stony paths, watery reflections on the lake, subtly shifting projections on towering bamboo, interactive buttons to allow you to create a play with light and sound, as well as hundreds of torches in a garden of fire.

In addition to all that, you can also enjoy the boutique Christmas village with traditional stalls, festive music, tempting treats and vintage rides.

Need to know: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew TW9 3AB. Winter opening times: 9.30am to 4.15pm. Admission: Adults £16, concessions £14. Christmas at Kew runs from Thursday November 28 to Sunday December 22, and every night from Thursday December 26 to Saturday January 4, 4.30-10pm. Entry: Adults £12.50, children £8, family £38. More info @ kew.org.

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RHS Garden Wisley

This time of the year is also a festive one at RHS Garden Wisley with a Christmas Shop brimming with trees, wreaths and decorations, a Craft and Design Fair, special seasonal lunches, a Christmas Glasshouse Display and an enchanted winter trail.

The gardens themselves will also be looking very picturesque, with wintery scenes unfolding before you, and it’s a great time to see the bones of the landscape too. Plants to look out for at this time of year include an array of hollies, clusters of yellow flowers on glossy evergreen mahonias, bright orange pyracantha berries, fragrant winter-flowering honeysuckle and scented sarcococca blooms.

And don’t forget the ethereal skeletal grasses and coloured stems in the Piet Oudolf borders, before warming up with a cup of something hot in one of the restaurants.

Need to know: RHS Garden Wisley, Woking GU23 6QB. Winter opening times: Monday to Friday, 10am-4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 4.30pm. Admission: Adults £11.85, children £5.10. Christmas Shop: open until Tuesday December 24. Craft Fair: open Wednesday November 27 to Sunday December 1. Christmas Display in the Glasshouse: open Saturday December 7 to Sunday January 5. More info @ rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley.

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