The snowdrops are coming out! The loveliest places to catch winter snowdrops across Cornwall and beyond over the next few weeks.
Shorts and sandals at the ready, spring is here. Er, okay maybe not, but the snowdrops are! If you’ve thawed out enough to venture outside and see them, here are the best snowdrop hotspots in your ‘hood and beyond (obvs you’ll be following the lockdown guidance, but if any of our suggestions would mean you’d need to travel outside of your local area, we’d suggest bookmarking in case guidance changes towards the end of Feb).
Did you know that the scientific name for snowdrops is Galanthus which means milk flower? Or that there are literally thousands of different species and variety of snowdrops? They naturally deal with frost, snow and ice and are often the very first sign of spring, peeking out of woodland floors and along Cornish hedges and lanes.
If you’re just after spying one or two, then why not create your very own snowdrop walk in Cornwall. Your own nearest local walks are bound to come up trumps and there are loads of secret spots of carpets of snowdrops in Cornwall just waiting to be discovered. Over the past few weeks on our family lockdown walks we’ve enjoyed seeing one, then a few, then a dozen appearing from the verges of the lanes and along the stream edges and woodland floors.
There are of course places where you’re guaranteed to a magnificent display – these are some of Cornwall’s best, and open now.
Pinetum Gardens (St Austell)
Among the 30 acres of beautiful gardensat family-owned Pinetum you’ll find the Woodland Gardens embracing the approach road to the main garden and which is planted with thousands of snowdrops, creating a gorgeous white carpet – you’ll need to book online in advance.
Look out for snowdrops in the Upper Gardens and orchards at medieval house Cotehele, deep in the Tamar Valley. We recommend starting at the Quay and then spend a few hours exploring the extensive and expansive estate which takes in fields, woodlands and glorious views and you’ll need to book online in advance.
The mild maritime climate at Trelissick means the early flowering rhododendrons and camellias bring colour to the garden with the borders scattered with hellebores, cyclamen and snowdrops. After you’ve explored the more formal gardens head down through the fields and woodland to the beach on the river Fal which is gloriously peaceful, or sit at the top of the garden and look out over the deep river anchorage towards the Roseland. You’ll need to book online in advance and remember that the cafés are closed.
Tired of National Trust properties yet? No, us neither. This Victorian house and estate at Lanhydrock, near to Bodmin, has absolutely beautiful woodlands to walk and cycle in. Unlike a lot of Cornwall’s gardens, it is nowhere near the coast which gives it a totally different feel, where the woodland floor is carpeted first with snowdrops then bluebells later in the year. You’ll need to book online in advance and remember that the café by the playground is take-away only.
Trengwainton Gardens (Penzance)
Spring comes early to this corner of West Cornwall, so expect to find a good amount of blooms when this exotic Cornish garden and historic house re-opens on 8 February. Find snowdrops nestled at the base of the trees lining the Drive and Long Walk as well as camellias and magnolias. We expect booking will be essential in advance, as per other National Trust properties.
Glendurgan (Mawnan Smith, Falmouth)
You’ll get more than just snowdrops when this sub-tropical valley garden and horticultural hotspot re-opens for 2021 on 16 February. Expect primroses and violets under the trees, interspersed shortly after by a mixture of jewel-coloured aquilegias and wild orchids and then bluebells galore. The camellias and magnolias are particularly spectacular as you wind your way down the valley to the beach on the edge of the Helford River. We expect booking will be essential in advance, as per other National Trust properties.
CLOSED – Bookmark for 2022
Lost Gardens of Heligan (St Austell)
A year-round favourite, the gardens at Heligan always have something of interest. In late Jan and early Feb the snowdrops are coming out on the woodland walks, to be replaced by carpets of daffodils in the coming weeks. Join in with the bird count in the bird hide this weekend, as well as see pineapples in bloom in the kitchen garden, anemones in the walled garden and get some inspiration for your own garden in the potting shed of dreams and glasshouses.
Pencarrow House (Wadebridge)
It’s snowdrops in abundance over at Pencarrow House with the white bloomer springing up across the site’s fifty acres. This Georgian pile is the family home of the Molesworth-St Aubyns and the season really gets going with the first of the wild garlic when the gardens properly open on 1 March, with the bluebells following in April. Each year the gardens usually run two charity ‘Snowdrop Sundays’ when for a small fee visitors can visit the snowdrops.
Festival of Snowdrops, RHS Rosemoor (Devon)
Just over the border from North Cornwall, families can follow the snowdrop trail to find the best displays of these beautiful flowers in the garden, and also take part in our photographic competition en route. It is the perfect time to visit the garden for both expert galanthophiles and visitors who simply appreciate these shy but stunning early-spring flowers.
Tregoose Gardens, Grampound
Between November and March some 70 varieties of snowdrop flower in the garden at Tregoose. Many of these are planted in the woodland garden, along with numerous dwarf daffodil cultivars and erythroniums, where they flourish beneath Monterey pines and cypresses, dracaenas, deciduous azaleas and the white July-scented rhododendron ‘Polar Bear’.
Hidden Valley Gardens, Treesmill (nr Fowey)
This award winning and RHS Partner Garden is nestled in a secluded hidden valley near Fowey and spans over 3 acres.
Don’t fancy leaving the house? Head online instead
There are nearly 350 named cultivars and species of snowdrop – some rarely seen in open gardens at Dartmoor’s The Garden House, and each year they host an annual festival. Every day their talented team of gardeners and student gardeners, Rose and Rosie, will go out into the snowdrop drifts and post live images of the outstanding collection as it blooms… look out also for Facebook LIVE events so you can have a look around the garden and enjoy the snowdrops in real time – and get a taste of what you’ll be able to see in person next year.