Seasonal Garden Highlights
A place where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert could be away from the public gaze, Osborne's gardens were where the royal couple enjoyed private family life. Here they took walks together, grew vegetables with their children, and planted hundreds of trees. Discover the plants and features you can enjoy during your visit, as we take you on a journey through a year of seasonal garden highlights at Osborne.
Osborne in Spring
In spring, mass plantings of daffodils can be seen in the arboretum and on the banks along the Durbar lawns, while rhododendrons are coming into flower along with tree heath, lily of the valley and barberries. Wild daffodils can also be seen flowering in the grass meadows through the valley in front of the house.
Meanwhile, pockets of primroses are appearing in the meadow at the Swiss Cottage, a small Alpine-style chalet with its own gardens and museum, built at Osborne by Prince Albert for the education of the royal children.Discover the Swiss Cottage
On the terraces, there is a striking display of spring bedding, particularly on the extensive Pavilion Terrace. Clematis and camellias are in flower and the pergola is coming to life with fresh new growth.
In the walled garden, the glasshouse display is being set up and will be fully stocked by the end of May. Trained fruit trees are also getting ready to burst into flower, making spring a good time to see how we prune our wall and espalier fruit. Keep a particular eye out for Osborne's orange tree, which bore its first crop of oranges in spring 2018, highlighting the warm climate enjoyed by the Isle of Wight.
As spring turns to summer, English Heritage properties across the country celebrate our historic gardens with a series of special events. Keep an eye on our events page for information about what's on at Osborne this season.Events at Osborne
Osborne in Summer
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert chose Osborne as their holiday residence and particularly enjoyed visiting in summer.
The mild Mediterranean climate and sea views are complemented by evergreen foliage and the shade cast by tree canopies. When designing the layout of the estate, Prince Albert made the most of these aspects to enhance the existing garden and parkland. The formality and colours of the terraces with their wonderful summer bedding schemes set off the magnificent Italianate house with its lower walls covered in myrtle and magnolias.
Since the wedding of Victoria and Albert’s eldest daughter, also named Victoria, Osborne myrtle has featured in the bouquets of several generations of royal brides, from Queen Elizabeth II, to Diana, Princess of Wales, to most recently Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, Duchess of Suffolk..Discover the history of Osborne Myrtle
During the summer the walled garden is full of interest, with an acre of flowers for cutting and fruit trained in various historic styles.
Two displays of annuals which vary from year to year reach their peak during the summer months and are worth seeking out. The pleasure grounds remain tranquil and well maintained with the herbaceous borders providing a constant flow of colour throughout the season.
Wild flowers abound in the meadows at Osborne, swaying in the gentlest of breezes and attracting a multitude of butterflies. The grass has deliberately been left to grow long here to help support a wide variety of species. Vistas cut through the woodland give tantalising glimpses of the Solent, usually teeming with boats large and small throughout the summer. A paddle in the sea at Osborne's beach is a great way to cool down after a summer stroll through the gardens and grounds.Explore Victoria's Private Beach
Osborne in Autumn
Autumn and winter bring additional delights. Longer shadows enhance features of the natural and historic landscape, which would have so delighted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The trees are of particular interest with autumn colour lasting until the end of the year, followed by the stately tracery of the bare branches framing the landscape. During October, November and December many species of rare and unusual fungi can be seen opening up on the lawns and among fallen leaves.
In the garden the team are preparing shrub beds, changing bedding and propagating or lifting tender specimens in preparation for the coming season - a chance to come and see how our seasonal displays are achieved. The harvest of historic fruit and vegetables from both the children's gardens at the Swiss Cottage and the walled garden are also on display, showing Victorian 'tastes' at their most bountiful.
Winter at Osborne
Winter on the Isle of Wight comes late and finishes early with the longest number of sunlight hours in Britain, and a generally mild, almost Mediterranean, climate. The garden features a lot of evergreen plants, as was fashionable in the Victorian era, which provide much needed structure at this time of year.
Berries provide most of the colour in the garden in winter. But once they have been stripped by the birds, further interest can be found in the camellias which tend to start flowering in February, followed a little later by the rhododendrons. These are supplemented by hellebores and lots of spring flowering bulbs in the borders, with daffodils being the stars of the show.
During winter, the upper floors of Osborne and the Swiss Cottage close as we enter our winter opening hours, for crucial conservation and cleaning. Throughout this period, the grounds and gardens remain open. Make sure you check our opening times page when planning your winter visit.Check our opening times
Caring for Osborne's historic landscape is a team of knowledgeable gardeners and volunteers. Passion for horticulture and historical knowledge allows our team to conserve these gardens for future generations to enjoy.
If you would like to share your passion for gardening, or are looking to develop horticultural skills and experience, there are always opportunities to get involved. Browse our volunteering page and find out how you can help us look after Osborne's stunning gardens and grounds.Browse Volunteering Opportunities