Things to See and Do

Seasonal Garden Highlights

A place where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert could be away from 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. Take a journey through a year of seasonal garden highlights at Osborne.

The walled fruit & flower garden at Osborne House
The Walled Garden in spring

Osborne in Spring

In spring Osborne pockets of primroses appear in in the meadow at Swiss Cottage, and around the Ice Well, while the wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) flower in the grass meadows through the valley in front of the house.

Mass plantings of daffodils can also be seen in the arboretum and on the banks along the Durbar lawns, while rhododendrons are coming into flower along with Erica arborea, Pieris and Berberis.


On the terraces, there is a striking display of spring bedding, particularly on the extensive Pavilion Terrace. On the Palm Terrace Clematis armandii and camellias are in flower and the pergola is coming to life with fresh new growth.

The walled garden is neat and tidy with the trained fruit ready to burst into flower - it is a good time to see how to prune wall and espalier fruit, with the structure of the trees clearly evident.

With the Parma violets starting to bloom in the frames, the glasshouse display is being set up and will be fully stocked by the end of May.

Tulips with visit at Osborne House
Tulips in the spring bedding on the Terraces


At Swiss Cottage the daffodils and orchids including common spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and green winged orchids (Orchis morio) are beginning to flower. The royal children's plots are being sown with early vegetable seeds, while the fruit trees are coming into blossom and the rest of the trees are breaking into leaf.

In the woodland adjacent to the Swiss Cottage, bluebells and wild garlic carpet the ground with a sea of blue and swathes of white.

Bluebells in the woods at Osborne House
Bluebells in the woods near the Swiss Cottage

Osborne in Summer

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert chose Osborne as their country residence and particularly enjoyed visiting in summer.

The mild Mediterranean climate and sea views are complemented by the evergreen foliage and tree canopies. When Prince Albert laid out the estate he 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.

The pavilion seen from lower terrace at Osborne House
Summer bedding in the Lower Terrace, looking towards the Pavillion


During the summer the Walled Garden is full of interest, with an acre of flowers for cutting and trained fruit using various historic styles of training. Together they make a really spectacular sight.

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.

It is here that visitors may get the opportunity to see red squirrels, which are always a delight to behold.

Woodland and meadows around the Swiss Cottage at Osborne
Woodland and meadows around the Swiss Cottage in late summer


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.

The garden at Swiss Cottage is well worth the walk through the estate. Here vistas cut through the woodland giving tantalising glimpses of the Solent usually teaming with boats, large and small, throughout the summer.

Swiss Cottage and garden at Osborne
Swiss Cottage with the children's plots used to raise fruit, vegetables and flowers

Osborne in Autumn

Autumn and winter bring additional delights to the visitor to Osborne with light levels enhancing 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. October, November and December abound with rare and unusual species of fungi, many of them quite spectacular.

In the garden the team are preparing shrub beds, changing bedding, propagating and/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 Swiss Cottage and from the Walled Garden are on display, showing Victorian 'tastes' at their most bountiful.

The enjoyment of the garden is accentuated by the various species of wildlife who are gathering their winter stores, often oblivious to the day visitors - red squirrels in particular.

View of cedar tree at Osborne House
Cedar tree with Osborne House behind

Winter in Osborne

Winter at Osborne 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 to the garden at this time of year.

The pleasure grounds between the walled garden and the house are encircled by borders containing a variety of evergreens, such as rhododendrons and azaleas. In Queen Victoria's day the family would stroll here and enjoy the gardens.

The Swiss Cottage in snow at Osborne
The Swiss Cottage in snow


Berries provide most of the colour in the garden at this time of year. 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.

Rhododendrons coming into bloom at Osborne House
Rhododendrons often come into flower early at Osborne


These are supplemented by hellebores and lots of spring flowering bulbs in the borders with the daffodils being the stars of the show. Some daffodils even started flowering in early December illustrating just how mild the Isle of Wight can be.

See more things to see and do at Osborne. Plan your visit today.

Discover more about the garden and grounds at Osborne with a guided tour led by our expert gardeners. Groups can book a tour as part of their visit, or join one of our Garden Tours & Guided Walks

'step into englands story