Snowdrop gardens to visit across the UK

By Chris Binding

Spring, that most welcome celebrity of a season, might announce its arrival in a golden fanfare of daffodils. But its long-awaited appearance is first signalled by the rolling out in early February of nature's own white carpet, as snowdrops challenge the winter to retreat.
SnowdropsSnowdrops

It is a seasonal show that grows more spectacular by the year, witnessed by an ever-growing fan club of Galanthophiles - after the flower’s scientific name Galanthus - won over by wonderful displays in gardens and woodlands across the UK.

Wherever you live, there’s certain to be an open garden or place to visit nearby, which has its own snowdrop spectacular to offer - and you’ll be dazzled by the displays. Please check websites for opening dates, times and admission prices.

Scotland’s Cambo Estate, near St Andrews on the east coast, boasts over 200 varieties of snowdrops in its 70 acres of woodland garden, and they are added to yearly in a burgeoning mail order business, as gardeners clamour to bring the snowdrop magic to their own special plots. Orders are received from all over the world.

Hodsock Priory, in Nottinghamshire boasts a myriad of snowdrops in its five-acre gardens, plus a half-mile walk in the woods with carpets of blooms to delight you.

Dunham Massey, Cheshire is one of the North’s greatest gardens and Britain’s largest winter garden, where the white carpet will be rolled out for visitors. The garden contains almost 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs specifically bred for the 7 acre wonder. January heralds the first early signs of spring with the delicate charms of snowdrops, where clusters of over 100,000 double and single snowdrops and 20,000 narcissi bloom amongst the trees.

Snowdrops The Argory in Co. Armagh is a spectacular riverside estate that shows a stunning display of snowdrops and other superb spring bulbs throughout February. Snowdrop self-guided walks run every Saturday and Sunday in the month, where the scenic walk shows off the garden as the frost thaws. The show keeps getting better and better each year with the stunning backdrop of sweeping vistas. With snowdrop plants available to buy, fun for children in the adventure playground, a trip to The Argory this February is well worth it.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Yorkshire, is a World Heritage Site set in 323 hectares of beautiful countryside which offers an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the range of England's heritage and natural beauty. Walk on a white carpet of snowdrops in early spring as you explore the magnificent 12th-century abbey ruins and amble through the beautiful landscaped Georgian water garden of Studley Royal, complete with Neo-classical statues, follies and breathtaking views.

Visit Chirk Castle, Wrexham, to chase away those winter blues with a bracing walk around the award winning gardens and woods carpeted with delicate snowdrops. Glimpses of the spring bulbs can be found throughout the garden. The snowdrops scatter between clipped yews, herbaceous borders, shrub and rock gardens, as well as a terrace with stunning views over the Cheshire and Salop plains.

You could visit Ickworth, Suffolk, and wander around Ickworth’s park and along Geraldine’s Walk, Oak Walk and the Trim Trail, where snowdrops are complemented by the golden glow of aconites. Discover amazing views of the estate, or warm up in the West Wing restaurant with delicious food and drink.

East Lambrook Manor, in Somerset, was been the site of a new snowdrop discovery, galanthus ‘Sir Henry B-C’ in 2006. The gardens were created by the British garden icon, Margery Fish in the 1950s, who popularised snowdrops and made the general public aware of their immense beauty and variety. Since then, East Lambrook Manor has become a site of pilgrimage for snowdrop enthusiasts from all over the world.

This new variety was discovered by gardeners at East Lambrook Manor and was confirmed by galanthus expert, Matt Bishop, as an exciting addition to the already rare and extensive snowdrop collection in these famous Somerset gardens.

The snowdrop was named ‘Sir Henry B-C’ after Sir Henry Boyd-Carpenter who was Margery Fish’s nephew and who spent much of his childhood growing up at East Lambrook Manor.

Also in Somerset, a park-and-ride scheme will be in operation again during snowdrop season, to bus thousands of visitors to the hidden Snowdrop Valley, near Exmoor's Wheddon Cross. This helps reduce traffic pollution to a minimum, and ensures visitors a safe and comfortable trip to the secret valley of the River Avill. A really special place to see.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset, hosts a dazzling blanket of snowdrops each winter. The garden wakes up in spectacular fashion in January and February when thousands of this favourite flower burst through the soil transforming the garden into a sea of white.

SnowdropsThere are snowdrop extravaganzas on offer at splendid Heale House, near Salisbury, Wiltshire. There are eight acres of beautiful gardens beside the River Avon with fabulous shows of snowdrops guaranteed.

Nymans in West Sussex is a 20th-century garden is famed for its amazing collection of rare and important plants. At the start of spring, spot wonderful displays of snowdrops as well as camellias and magnolias underplanted with a host of daffodils and grape hyacinths. The bulb meadow in the Wall Garden is full of snowdrops and early narcissus and there are rare hellebores all around the garden.

Anglesey Abbey Garden, in Cambridgeshire, has more than 240 varieties of snowdrop scattered throughout the 100-acre garden in January and February, including Galanthus lagodechianus. This variety, uncommon in Britain and thought to be a relic from the Crimean War, was one of 17 discovered by Head Gardener Richard Ayres on the site of the garden's Victorian rubbish heap.

In Shropshire, at Attingham Park's you can wander along the River Tern and watch the woodland floor transform into a beautiful carpet of snowdrops.

At Mottisfont in Hampshire snowdrops thrive along the banks of the Font stream, where the warmer water creates its own microclimate, teasing them into bloom a week or two before their companions in colder corners of the garden. Elsewhere, the open acres of the river garden are magically transformed by drifts of purest white.

At Newark Park in Gloucestershire you can discover the beauty of pure-white snowdrops that mingle among the other early-spring flowers throughout the estate's garden.

And if that's not enough, click here for even more ideas for snowdrop gardens to visit.

Click here to find out how to grow your own snowdrops.

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  • Sandra Ogilvie

    Posted: Monday 30 January 2012

    My friend and I are annual visitors to the breathtaking display at Cambo, near St.Andrews in Scotland. We are looking forward to having lunch first at the world famous Fish Bar in Anstruther,(the Guest Book reads like a who's who!) then on to Cambo to admire the breathtaking snowdrops. There are usually plants for sale via an honesty box. We can't rate it highly enough.

  • Janet

    Posted: Friday 27 January 2012

    Love Anglesey Abbey's snowdrop walk at this time of year. Well worth a visit. And there's a wonderful restaurant, too.

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