Find a snowdrop garden to visit in February
A tall order
I have quite a few snowdrops in my garden. I know because I count them. It’s a tradition borne out of fear, fear that the snowdrops I’ve planted won’t come up. My thoughtful husband gave me 1,000 green snowdrops as a birthday present a few years ago and I was delighted with them. However, I soon realised that planting them was quite a tall order when pushed for time, hence a rushed plonking in around the garden and the resultant fear.
How do I count them?
My friends wonder how I manage to count them; it’s fairly easy when they’re planted in clumps. I simply push the counted snowdrops to one side as I go through each one. Most of them are planted on a bank, which in my mind’s eye has a host of snowdrops as far as the eye can see. That initial gift has now multiplied to just over 3,000, which sounds quite a lot but there’s still some way to go to match the picture in my head.
That’s why it’s good to get out and see massed plantings of snowdrops in February. The gardens famed for them have been planting and dividing theirs for decades, if not more. It’s reassuring that in time and with patience my own humble garden bank will echo the magnificence I’ve seen elsewhere.
Find your garden
Here’s a selection of my favourite gardens for snowdrops, sprinkled with a couple of suggestions from my gardening friends. If there isn’t one near you, then the Great British Gardens website has a list of over 30 snowdrop gardens well worth a visit.
Aberglasney in west Wales, isn’t found in the usual snowdrop gardens lists, but I liked its new bankside plantings combined with bright pink Cyclamen coum when I visited a couple of weeks ago. This wonderful garden is poised to get even better as Head Gardener Joseph Atkin, has plenty of exciting plans for its future.
Anglesey Abbey, Lode, Cambridgeshire is famed for its winter garden and has an annual snowdrop festival throughout February. On weekdays you can join the gardens team at 2pm for a guided tour. Spaces are limited, so pre-booking is advised.
Chelsea Physic Garden, London is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the UK. This year it’s chosen to elevate much of its snowdrop collection to eye level so visitors can easily see the subtle differences between cultivars.
Image: Galanthus 'Hippolyta'
Cambo Estate Gardens, Fife, Scotland is the proud holder of the National Collection of Galanthus. It has over 300 cultivars in its woodland garden in combination with snowflakes, winter aconites and scented winter shrubs. Here is a chance to see snowdrops thriving close to the sea.
Image: Colesborne Park
Colesbourne Park, near Cheltenham Gloucestershire is one for snowdrop spotting as it has around 250 cultivars on display. It’s one of the few gardens where these cultivars are used in the massed plantings around the grounds; most gardens use mainly Galanthus nivalis in theirs. This is a famous galanthophile garden as Henry John Elwes (1846-1922)—of Galanthus elwesii fame—made many of the original plantings.
Hodsock Priory, near Blyth, Nottinghamshire is reputed to have over 4 million snowdrops on its half-mile woodland walk. There are specialist snowdrop treasures to find close to the house and a winter garden which provides plenty of colourful inspiration for this time of year.
February can be a dreary month, so it’s great that one of our best loved plants forms the perfect excuse to get out for a bracing garden visit.
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Michelle Chapman is a gardener, freelance writer and garden blogger from Wiltshire. She writes the award winning blog, Veg Plotting, where her small town garden is a regular feature alongside any topic which springs to mind whilst at her allotment.
Images © Michelle Chapman