If you’re planning your garden for the year ahead in January, then look no further for inspiration than the historic and beautiful Hampton Court Palace. In early January the Christmas festivities are gently winding down, with ice skating available until 7th Jan, but more importantly for the dedicated gardener, the gardens in winter, especially on a frosty day are second to none. The stately avenues of goose-foot pruned yews make a bold silhouette, and the world famous Hampton Court Palace maze, along with the formal structure of the privy garden are all worth enjoying on a bright winter day. (Full details of opening times, entry costs and travel arrangements can be found on the ‘visit’ pages).

Towards the end of the pond gardens, is ‘The Great Vine’, reportedly the oldest (planted in 1768 by ‘Capability Brown’) and largest grapevine in the world. Even in the winter its vast size and structure is sure to inspire viticulturists and curious gardeners alike.

There’s also the newly restored Kitchen Garden to amble around, where the gardening team are growing heritage varieties and recreating the gardens as they likely would have been in the 18th century.

And for those who like making the connection between what you grow and what you eat, the palace kitchens are open daily, as well as the newly restored chocolate kitchens – open for the first time in almost 300 years.

Of course if you over-indulged at Christmas it may take you another 300 years before you can face the thought of venturing into a chocolate kitchen. Best stick to the gardens in that case.

Happy new year to one and all!