ONE of the New Forest's biggest attractions is staying open during the new national lockdown - and says it could extend its season until Christmas.

It is thought to be the first time that the award-winning Exbury Gardens, near Beaulieu, has opened to the public in November and December.

Furzey Gardens, near Minstead, is also opening during the lockdown - but only at weekends.

New Forest Post:

It follows the publication of new government guidelines that allow visitor gardens to open during the shutdown, which is due to end on December 2.

Exbury's admission prices have been reduced to £8 for adults and £3 for children but visits must be pre-booked.

Robin Savill, head of operations, said: "Since the new lockdown was announced we’ve had lots of requests from members of the public wanting to know if we would remain open as they’ve been enjoying the gardens so much.

"With government guidance clear, we’re pressing ahead and look forward to seeing visitors make the most of our socially-distanced open space and woodland wonders.

“The gardens are exceptionally beautiful at the moment, with our acer collection shedding vibrant reds and our National Collection of Nyssa and Oxydendrum aflame with oranges and yellows. We're also having an exceptionally good year for fungi."

Exbury was one of the first visitor attractions in the south to reopen after the first lockdown ended and has seen a boost in admission numbers.

Its decision to welcome visitors throughout the new shutdown means even more people can reap the mental and physical benefits of using the 200-acre site for exercise.

Tickets to Exbury Gardens must be pre-booked online, with visitors given an arrival time slot to maintain safe social distancing.Take-away snacks and other refreshments are available.

New Forest Post:

Furzey Gardens are open from 10am to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday this month - but only to visitors who have pre-booked.

A spokesperson said: "The gardens are well-known for their tranquil location, thatched tea rooms and 40 'fairy doors'.

"Its meandering paths winding through beautiful autumn colour will provide an attractive backdrop for people taking their permitted exercise during lockdown."