Gardens can be wonderfully dramatic and beautiful in winter, when it can be a delight to head outside for a walk to blow away the cobwebs.
More of us are now realising that winter gardens are to be enjoyed rather than endured and over the next few months winter walks will take us from autumn colour right through the January and February and the start of snowdrop displays.
Certainly the build up to Christmas and the New Year shouldn’t deter regular garden visitors from wrapping up and getting out to enjoy the unique drama beauty of winter gardens, many which now stay open longer to allow people to enjoy nature trails through woodlands and gardens.
Rangers and volunteers are often laid on to help with guided walks and whether its blustery coastal walks, countryside strolls or guided tours there’s so much to be said for winter fresh air.
And then further ahead there’s no greater assurance that the brighter days of spring are on their way, than the prospect of snowdrops.
Rightly called a harbinger of spring, snowdrops can start flowering in the depths of winter and are a sign the days are getting brighter and spring is indeed round the corner.
Winter wonderland walks at magical Batsford Arboretum
While Batsford may be famous for autumn colour and beautiful spring blossom, it is a delight in the depths of winter too. Wrap up warm and meander along paths beside streams and ponds and, if you’re lucky, the whole arboretum takes on a magical quality when covered in a coating of ice. It’s a wonderful chance to see the arboretum in all its deep midwinter glory, with the colourful stems of cornus and magnificent structure of the trees the stars of the show, followed by drifts of beautiful snowdrops in early spring. You can enjoy warming food in the Garden Terrace Café, a host of tempting plants and garden sundries in the garden centre and browse the wide range of gifts. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, 10am to 5pm on Sundays
Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Glos, GL56 9AD. www.batsarb.co.uk
Colesbourne Park is the acknowledged home of snowdrops
Started by Henry John Elwes with the magnificent Galanthus elwesii, the historic snowdrop collection at Colesbourne Park is the acknowledged home of snowdrops in England. The gardens, restored and extended by Sir Henry and his wife Carolyn, have around 350 varieties mixed with winter and spring bulbs: aconites, cyclamen, iris, miniature daffodils, snowflakes, hellebores and winter flowering shrubs. Visitors can walk beside the blue lake and along the woodland paths of the 10-acre gardens to see the snowdrops and planting schemes of winter and spring bulbs which complement the snowdrops.
The gardens are open from 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays from 2nd February to 3rd March. Teas and plant sales are available. Colesbourne Park is halfway between Cheltenham and Cirencester on the A435.
Colesbourne Gardens LLP, Estate Office, Colesbourne, Nr. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 9NP.
Snowdrops signal an end to winter
Surely one of the best signs that winter is almost over is the sight of snowdrops pushing up through cold, dark earth and dead leaves. Whether it’s a single, brave flower standing alone that catches your eye, or great swathing clumps of white; the sight of the first snowdrop is a key moment in the calendar.
That moment at the back end of January or early February when a dark hedgerow suddenly has light in it is enough to show that spring is really on the way.
It’s the chance to discover the labelled snowdrop collection planted in herbaceous borders and naturalised with early flowering bulbs throughout the ten-acre garden.
Enjoy the early signs of spring. Open throughout February and March, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 3pm. On Saturday, 2nd February the Garden House will be hosting an Avon Bulbs snowdrop sale, see website for details.
The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, Devon PL20 7LQ. Tel: 01822 854 769 www.thegardenhouse.org.uk
Snowdrop Day has unique plants on view
The Alpine Garden Society Snowdrop Day is a unique opportunity to see very rare snowdrops and also to buy some to take home and grow in your garden. Always a highlight of the year for the society, this is an opportunity to meet gardeners and plant enthusiasts of all abilities from across the country and to take home some special plants. The AGS Snowdrop Day is on Saturday, 2nd February at Ford Hall, Lilleshall National Conferencing Centre, Newport, Shropshire TF10 9AT. The day includes lectures, plant sales, Snowdrop ‘Question and Answer’ session and a two-course lunch. Tickets are £35 for AGS members and £45 for non-members.
Abbotsbury Sub Tropical gardens offer calmness and serenity
As winter sets into this ancient woodland valley, the pace and tone of the garden unwinds as the change of season, shorter day length and misty mornings bring a calm and serene atmosphere to the garden. With the huge diversity of plants from all over the world comes an abundance of coloured fruits and turning leaves with brilliant yellows, reds and orange of Japanese maples and ginkgo trees. Throughout the winter months flowering mahonias, scented daphnes and early camelias continue to display along with evergreen fatsias, architectural bamboo and striking exotic looking palm trees.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Bullers Way, Abbotsbury, Nr Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4LA. Gardens direct 01305 871387 www.abbotsburygardens.co.uk
Shaftesbury ready to celebrate snowdrop festival
Snowdrops have become synonymous with the Dorset town of Shaftesbury- and rightly so. The snowdrop celebrations now include a festival market and a snowdrop exhibition in the Shaftesbury arts centre which last year showed 106 items from exhibitors ranging from eight years to 80 years.
More than 1,000 volunteers have planted over 220,000 common snowdrops for everyone to enjoy, free of charge and created a unique winter festival. Along the way, the Shaftesbury team have learned about the diverse and beautiful cultivars.
Snowdrop Season and the Snowdrop Festival runs from Friday, 8th to Sunday 17th February next year.
Shaftesbury Snowdrops, Swans Trust (Shaftesbury) Ltd, Swans Yard, Shaftesbury SP7 8JQ. www.shaftesburysnowdropsfestival.org
Cerney House Gardens Winter Snowdrop and Hellebore Trail
Cerney House gardens is a romantic English garden for all seasons: beautiful on a sunny day with the scent of roses filling the air and magical on a frosty winters day. The house and gardens reopen at the end of January for the arrival of the fabulous winter display of snowdrops and hellebores. There is a snowdrop trail winding through the woodland with over 150 different appearing amongst swathes of pink and purple Hellebores. Cerney House’s charm is in its apparent informality and tranquility, heightened at the beginning of a busy gardening year. Open from Saturday, 26th January 2019 10am-5pm.
Cerney House Gardens, North Cerney, Cirencester, GL7 7BX. Tel: 01285 831300 www.cerneygardens.com
East Lambrook Manor Gardens Festival of Snowdrops
Cottage garden doyenne Margery Fish enthusiastically collected and popularised snowdrops, or Galanthus, which she planted in her now famous garden at East Lambrook Manor in Somerset. She was one of the first snowdrop devotees or ‘galanthophiles’ and amassed a significant collection in the 30 years she took to create this heartwarming garden.
She began her collection with a gift of the green-centred, double Galanthus ‘Ophelia’, bred in Norfolk by Heyrick Greatorex, a World War I cavalry officer who became a recluse but produced the first double hybrids, causing a sensation at the time in the 1940s.
The collection now includes over 120 different varieties and no longer fits in the display bed at the end of the nursery.
The festival will feature talks and tours and the annual NGS Snowdrop Open Day on 17th February. Over 40 varieties of snowdrop will be on sale in the nursery with a ‘Snowdrop Sale’ from 25th February with bulbs at reduced prices.
Throughout February the garden, nursery and cafe are open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm, Readers of Country Gardener can take advantage of the Two-for-One entry offer featured on the East Lambrook advertisement on page 23 of the Winter issue.