Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

It’s still snowdrop heaven!

A slightly later season for snowdrops means there’s still time to get out and see wonder displays of Galanthus elwesii in a number of settings.

Snowdrops seem to signal the slow passage of early spring. They appear in January and should reach their full glory in February.

So there’s still time to get out and see these wonderful displays. Some gardens have been reporting their snowdrops will be a week or more behind this year – even more reason to plan a visit.

From some of Britain’s finest gardens through to smaller private gardens, to tucked away forests- all open their gates to visitors to see carpets of these delicate blooms.

It’s an early season highlight for many gardeners but one of the big questions is how long into the year can you still see snowdrops at their best.

Certainly the first snowdrops start to appear in early January, some even in December, but most gardens put the real focus on mid to late February and often well into March. Unpredictable weather, as this year’s has been, may have affected the flowering progress but snowdrops should be at an absolute peak in February and many gardens are now staying open until the end of February and into the first few days of March.

Here’s just a small selection of where to see later season snowdrops:

painswick snowdropsPainswick Rococo Gardens, Stroud, Glos

The Rococo Garden has one of the largest naturalistic plantings of snowdrops. Open until Wednesday, 28th February. Adults £7. Painswick runs a series of snowdrop talks with head gardener, Steve Quinton, or a member of his team. They will be talking about the history of the garden and the varieties of snowdrops in the garden. These will be held every Wednesday in February. 

Painswick Rococo Gardens, Gloucester Rd, Painswick, Stroud GL6 6TH Tel: 01452 813204 

Colesbourne Park, Glos

Known as one of the finest displays in the country and set in the beautiful Churn valley in the heart of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. The historic collection, started by Henry John Elwes with the discovery of Galanthus elwesii in Turkey in 1874, has been developed by Sir Henry and Lady Elwes in the past 25 years. Now with a collection of 350 varieties, visitors can enjoy the snowdrops throughout the ten-acre garden with its woodland and lakeside paths. Open every weekend through to Sunday, 4th March. Gates open 1pm to 4.30pm Adults £8. 

Colesbourne Gardens,3 Southbury Farm Cottages, Colesbourne, Cheltenham GL53 Tel: 0871 200 2233

Cotswold Farm Gardens, Duntisbourne Abbots, Glos

Cotswold Farm Gardens, opens its doors on the 17th and 18th of February from 11am until 3pm for a weekend of snowdrops.
The arts and crafts garden, designed in the 1930s by Norman Jewson, offers beautiful views into the adjacent valley. 
Named snowdrops can be found throughout the borders of the garden and many naturalised varieties feature along the short woodland walk.
Entrance is £5 and under 16’s are free; there is no need to book, just turn up on the day. All proceeds will go to Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

Travelling 10 miles southbound along the A417 from Gloucester, take the exit (signposted for Duntisbourne Abbots) next to the BP garage. Shortly after, turn right and follow the signs for Cotswold Farm Gardens (GL7 7JS).

Bickham House, Exeter, Devon

Situated on the outskirts of Exeter, Bickham House is a small 17th century mansion, set within a two-hectare park in a secluded wooded valley. You’ll be able to see dramatic banks of snowdrops and a small named collection at Bickham Cottage. 
Visitors are invited to on the following dates: Saturday 24th and Sunday March 25th February. Admission £5, children free.

Bickham House, Kenn, Exeter, Devon EX6 7XL Tel: 01392 832671 

Forde Abbey and Gardens, Chard, Somerset

Rich in history and culture, the stately home of Forde Abbey and its surrounding 30 acres of perfectly manicured greenery and lakes, still operate as a family home and a working estate. Throughout February, the 30 acres of award-winning gardens are carpeted in a spectacular display of snowdrops. Most of the snowdrops at Forde Abbey are the “common” snowdrop Galanthus nivalis, including the double form G. nivalis flore pleno, but galanthophiles will be able to spot other varieties in hidden corners, such as G. atkinsii in the Rock Garden.

east lambrrok manorEast Lambrook Manor Gardens, South Petherton, Somerset

One of England’s best-loved privately owned gardens, East Lambrook Manor Gardens is open from Tuesday to Sunday during February for visitors to marvel at the specialist collection of snowdrops. The National Garden Scheme  (NGS) is hosting an open day on Saturday, 17th February.
The pretty white flowers will be nestled among hellabores and geraniums, and other blooming flora in the bordered garden and winding pathways. The quintessential English cottage garden was created by gardening legend Margery Fish. It remains a plantsman's paradise with old-fashioned and contemporary plants grown in a relaxed and informal manner to create an extraordinary garden.

East Lambrook Manor  East Lambrook, South Petherton TA13 5HH. Tel 01460 2240328

Snowdrop Valley Exmoor, Wheddon Cross, Somerset

Snowdrop Valley is a privately owned remote valley in a hidden part of Exmoor close to Wheddon Cross and you can see the snowdrops here through to Sunday, February 25th.. For walkers there is a marked walking route down into the valley from the long stay car park at the livestock market, the walk is about a mile and takes around 30 minutes. The Badgworthy Land Company will allow visitors to ramble through the area carpeted in snowdrops.

Fyne CourtFyne Court, Bridgwater, Somerset

Nestled in the heart of the Quantock Hills, explore the wild garden of the National Trust’s Fyne Court where you will discover swathes of pretty snowdrops which adorn the woodland floor among the pops of colour from primroses, yellow archangel and bluebells. 

Fyne Court, Broomfield, Bridgwater TA5 2EQ.  Tel: 01823 451587

NT Killerton, Devon

This serene Georgian mansion and the 2,600 hectares of land that surround it were given to the National Trust in 1944 and since then it has developed into one of the county’s best locations to see a variety of plant life. Snowdrops are such a feature of Killerton. They can be found on almost every area of the estate – from the front park through to area around the chapel Look out especially for Dane’s Wood probably the best play to see the displays.

Higher Cherubeer, Dolton, Devon

With over 400 snowdrop varieties, this is a prime spot. The annual ‘whitewashing’ of the woodland areas never fails in igniting hope and joy through the dark winter months.  Higher Cherubeer features fine array of snowdrops, including a collection of home-cultivated species. Days of opening include Sunday 25th February. Admission is £4 for adults and free for children. 

Higher Cherubeer, Winkleigh, Exeter EX19 8PP

The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Devon

Open every weekend in February for ‘Snowdrop Weekends’ through to 25th February giving visitors a chance to enjoy the annual display.  Entry fees range from around £8 for adults and £4 for children and the garden and tea rooms are open from 11am to 3pm. Please see their website for further details. 

The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ. Tel: 01822 854769

Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Kingston Lacy's one and a half mile snowdrop walk through 40 acres of garden is expecting a spectacular display after the recent cold weather and is open until Wednesday 28th, February. Open 10am-4pm. Entry £9.50, child £4.75. 

Kingston Lacy, Wimborne Minster, Dorset BH21 4EA

West Dean GardensWest Dean Gardens, West Sussex

More than 500,000 spring bulbs have been planted, not just snowdrops – open every day throughout February. Snowdrops are really making their mark now plus their followers, the galanthophiles and every year the display is more impressive.

Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival, Dorset

The whole town goes Snowdrop mad throughout February, and while the main events are geared to earlier in the month there’s still time to see the Snowdrop Exhibition at Shaftebury Arts Centre until Saturday, February 18th.

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