Skip navigation.

Sara Draycott

Recent Comments

Take a Winter Walk around Seven Acres with Verity Bradbury at Wisley

Posted by Sara Draycott on 20 Jan 2014 at 11:05 AM

Hi, I'm Verity and I work on Seven Acres at Wisley.  I hope you enjoy reading my blog about an exciting new development...

The cold and dark of winter is here but this year that brings with it our new and colourful winter walk. Located on Seven Acres and designed to provide interest at what can otherwise be a dark time of year.

The walk itself loops around the whole of Seven Acres and can be viewed entirely from the hard path making it easily accessible.  Along the walk there are some beds which have been totally changed and are now dedicated to winter interest and then there are others which have pockets of interest to provide a splash of colour or a waft of scent as you pass by.

The first main bed on the walk is full of different varieties of Hamamelis, which will provide a stunning display when in full bloom. There is a mix of yellow, orange and red types and the idea is that they will be able to be viewed through each other providing some interesting colour combinations and hopefully some fantastic photo opportunities for any photographers out there as well. All of the Hamamelis cultivars used in our winter walk have gained the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) so if you are thinking of buying one this is a good opportunity to see lots of fantastic examples all in one place.  We were advised by the great Hamamelis champion Chris Lane, who runs the Witch Hazel Nursery, and we thank him for his expertise.

The next main bed on our walk is our established winter stem bed. Although this is not a new planting it is none the less stunning and is a great showcase for a wide range of Cornus and Salix. The brightness and colouring of individual stems is amazing and can be fully appreciated thanks to a path which runs through this bed, enabling you to get up close and be surrounded by them. One of my favourite Salix in the bed is Salix alba var. vitellina ‘Yelverton’ which is a beautiful dark orange in colour, another grouping of this plant can be found by the small pond on Seven Acres and they also give a stunning display.

Above: A group planting of Cornus alba Baton Rouge (‘Minbat’)

As you continue along the path you will see our biggest bed of winter interest. This bed has not only been newly planted but previous to planting it was also extended. The fact that this bed was extended seemed a bit daunting at first as it now a huge bed, however we still didn’t quite manage to get all the plants that we were planning on putting in the bed in. The planting in this bed consists of different conifers, Salix and Hamamelis of which we have 90 in this one bed alone, three groups of 30, one red, one yellow and one orange. This is just a taster of the plants that are in the bed and there are many more to be seen. We have planted in big groups in this bed in order to get impact from a distance as well as close up, and it also makes it easier as the viewer to be able to appreciate the plants to their full potential.

Above: Another group planting, this time box balls and Berberis dictyophylla with existing silver birch behind.  Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin' will appear throughout this corner later in the season.


Further along the walk you will come to the area we call ‘Berry Walk’. The idea behind this section was to plant both beds either side of the path with bright berrying plants that look like little jewels and look amazing in the afternoon sun and draw the eye in. The plants that we have used include Pyracantha ‘Teton’ which has orange berries, Malus ‘Adirondack’ which has pink/red berries and Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Imperial Pearl’ which has purple berries. As the plants are still getting established it will take them a while to complete the look that we are after, however it will look stunning when they do.                


A short walk will take you to the final bed on our winter walk. This again has been completely transformed and now includes five mature Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, which look amazing with their twisted stems and little catkins, a large group of Sophora prostrata ‘Little Baby’ which I think is a great plant for its stems and leaves and Daphne odora ‘Mae-jima’ which will provide a waft of scent as you walk past not to mention being useful for lighting up a dark area under a tree.

Those of us that have been lucky enough to work on this project have really enjoyed seeing the changes take place and breathing life in to an area of the garden that needed refreshing.  We have worked together along the way from the initial choosing of the plants to the planning and the planting and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

So all that is left for me to say is come and see it for yourselves and let our winter walk brighten up a winter’s day.

Above: Our main winter bed at the back of Seven Acres laid out and ready for planting


Catherine said:

Thanks for an interesting post. It sounds amazing and it's interesting to hear about the planning and thinking behind the design. I am looking forward to seeing this when I visit Wisley in a couple of weeks.

on 20 Jan 2014 at 04:15 PM

Sara Draycott said:

Thanks Catherine.  It really is looking lovely, and given that it is only recently planted, we're all looking forward to seeing how it will develop in the forthcoming years.  


on 21 Jan 2014 at 01:24 PM