Springtime at the Valley Gardens in Windsor Park

by Jan

Windsor Great Park is a delightful place for a walk throughout the year, but if you’re looking for early spring colour, head to the Valley Gardens.  Spring is one of the best times to visit the Valley Gardens, when everything is starting to blossom.

Windsor Great Park is part of the Crown Estate near Windsor on the Surrey/Berkshire borders.  Formerly a royal hunting ground, it is now a fantastic park for walking, nature and enjoying the great outdoors.  It’s also one of the best places to see spring flowers in Surrey.

The Valley Gardens in Windsor Great Park

Just north of the spectacular Virginia Water Lake, the Valley Gardens are 250 acres of unique botanical gardens in Windsor Park.  The gardens were planted from 1946 under governance from the royal family but have always been open for the public to enjoy.

Map of the valley gardens, Virginia Waters, Surrey, UK

Today, the Valley Gardens are divided into distinct zones, but you can wander freely between the different areas.  A clue in the names will tell you what you’ll expect to find in each.  With an Azalea Valley, Camelia Garden and a Pinetum, to name just a few, not much is left to the imagination.

There are three suggested routes, but I prefer meandering through the twisting trails and steps to explore the valley.  We often inadvertently follow the blue route which hugs the perimeter of the waters on our regular walk around Virginia Water Lake.  However, if you really want to appreciate the full beauty of the gardens, I suggest you leave the waterside and head deeper inside the gardens.

The Heather Gardens

sea of heather, Heather garden, Virginia Water, Surrey, UK

On my most recent visit to the Valley Gardens, I headed first to the Heather Gardens.  And what a treat.  With its many varieties of heather, this is probably the most colourful garden area in early spring.  A palette of pinks and purples brings this area alive and the bees are already busy at work here.  It was a welcome relief after the dark winter months.

And not much further on, I found a carpet of snowdrops under the trees.  Spring really has sprung in the Valley Gardens!

Snowdrops, Valley Gardens, Great Windsor Park, Surrey, UK

Daffodil Valley

Daffodil Valley, Valley Gardens, Surrey, UK

Just beyond the Heather Gardens, I stumbled across an area of beautiful cyclamen-flowered daffodils.  With its swept-back petals, this miniature version is a unusual variety and really very pretty.

However for an absolutely stunning sight head to Daffodil Valley to see the carpet of  traditional daffodils which cover the floor.

Early spring flowers in the Valley Gardens

Rhododendron, Valley Gardens, Great Windsor Park, Surrey, UK

At the top of the valley Mother Nature really has been busy and early spring blossom is already starting to show.  Rhododendrons and Japanese camellia are already in bloom, in a impressive display of pinks, reds and yellow.

More spring flowers in the Valley Gardens

Japanese Camelia, Valley Gardens, Great Windsor Park, Surrey, UK

Valley Gardens has two main valleys, one of which is the famous Punchbowl.  By May, the terraces of the Punchbowl will be ablaze with the vibrant colours of Kurume azaleas.

There is a small pavilion at the top where you can admire the views.  Quite honestly, you’ll be able to see this mass of colour from anywhere the valley.

Elsewhere on the slopes, you’ll be able to enjoy displays of magnolias, hydrangeas, and Japanese cherry trees.

Canadian Avenue

The Totem Pole, Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

As I left the valley area, I climbed back up the steps and followed Canadian Avenue to the Totem Pole.  This woodland trail leads past giant firs and redwoods.  It’s a great spot for hide and seek.

The trail leads to the Totem Pole.  This 100ft pole was carved from a single 600-year old log of Western Red Cedar.  The government of British Columbia gave the totem pole as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II in 1958.

Savill Garden

Savil Garden Springtime, Valley Gardens, Surrey, UK

Another great place to see spring flowers in Surrey is at the Savill Gardens in Windsor Park.  This is about 20-minutes’ walk from the Valley Gardens and showcases an exotic collection of plants and trees from around the world.

Personally, I prefer the Valley Gardens as they are less formal than the Savill Gardens.  Also, there is no admission fee, which always gets my vote!

Visiting the Valley Gardens in early Spring is an ideal way to enjoy early blossom without the crowds.  However, I imagine for even more colour the gardens will be at their best in April or May.

Getting to Windsor Great Park

Windsor Great Park is in south east England on the borders of Surrey and Berkshire.  It is accessible from J13 of M25 via the A30 and J6 of the M4 via the A308 towards Windsor.

Head either for the entrance at Savill Garden in Wick Road or the Visitors Centre for Virginia Water Park.

If you are using public transport, take the train from Waterloo to Virginia Water.  You will then need to take a taxi to the Visitor Centre.

Car Parking

For the Valley Gardens use the Savill Garden Car Park (20-minutes’ walk).  The sat nav postcode is TW20 0HJ

If you plan to walk around Virginia Water Lake too, you could park at the car park on the A30.  The postcode is GU25 4QF, but it gets very busy on a sunny weekend!

Car parking charges apply at both and can be expensive.  However, admission to the Valley Gardens is free.

Opening hours at Windsor Great Park

The opening times are from 7.30am (or dawn if later) to 7pm (or dusk if earlier) throughout the year.

Dogs on a lead may enter the Valley Gardens.

Click here for more details about the park.

Have you seen the spring flowers in the Valley gardens? We’d love to hear your comments below.

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Avatar for Jan
Jo 7th March 2021 - 6:26 pm

Lovely, we went here during the autumn and it was equally beautiful.

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