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“We always plant them under deciduous shrubs,” says David, “so they are sheltered and can benefit from the rich, fertile soil as they grow.” As well as a treat for the eyes, David says that many snowdrops have a stunning scent.“On a still day you really catch it as you walk among them.

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At this time of year The Beth Chatto Gardens are open from 9am. It provides lovely, fresh, apple green foliage.” 4. Heuchera “This is an evergreen perennial of which comes in a multitude of foliage colours. Now aged 95, she leaves the day-to-day management of the seven-acre garden to her dedicated and experienced team, among them David Ward.The garden and nursery director says the gardens in winter may not draw the crowds of the warmer months, but they have a unique beauty.It’s not all about flowers and colour, we look at differing foliage and the shape or form of plants.” In the Gravel Garden, which is a tapestry of shapes and textures in the winter months, David says “there is barely a flower in sight, but it looks fantastic because of the plants’ foliage and form”.There are plantings of verbena whose seed heads turn jet black in winter and stand out among the green, silver and gold foliage and straw coloured grasses.Each hotel has genuine guest reviews enabling you to book from anywhere in the world in total confidence.

The Beth Chatto Garden was begun in 1960 on a faily level site just east of Colchester.

Here the emphasis is on a garden of form and foliage to create year-round interest no matter what the weather.

The gravel garden follows the course of a dry river bed, and offers a home to flowering grasses, lavandula, and allums, among many other varieties.

With dry and damp soil in both sun and shade, they were able put into practice the underlying principles of what is now referred to as "Ecological gardening".

There is a series of 4 gardens - Scree, Gravel, Woodland and Water all with lush leafy plantings of Gunnera, Eupatorium, Phormium and impressive Miscanthus around a series of natural ponds. If you want to take a break near Beth Chatto Garden, why not stay in one of our recommended hotels.

More winter colour is provided by the bergenias, the leaves of which, as cooler weather sets in, develop rich winter colouring - maroon, crimson, bronze and even beetroot red. ‘Eric Smith’, created by the well-known UK plantsman and named after him when introduced in the 1970s by Beth Chatto. David, who has been employed at the gardens since 1983, says: “We are all instilled in the way of the garden here.