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 our ‘hood and beyond. If you know a secret spot, please let us know in the comments below.
Pinetum Gardens (St Austell)
Among the 30 acres of beautiful gardens at 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.
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.
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.
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. You can also do the parkrun here on a Saturday morning if you fancy seeing the snowdrops in double time.
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.
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 9 February. Find snowdrops nestled at the base of the trees lining the Drive and Long Walk as well as camellias and magnolias.
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. Half way between Wadebridge and Bodmin, the gardens are running two charity ‘Snowdrop Sundays’ (9 & 16 Feb) with the suggested £5 entry fee going to CLEAR and Parkinsons Research. The Peacock Cafe will be open both Sundays.
Glendurgan (Mawnan Smith, Falmouth)
You’ll get more than just snowdrops when this sub-tropical valley garden and horticultural hotspot re-opens for 2020 on 15 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.
Have a camera, will travel?
Welford Park, Berks
Why Welford Park? It’s only got one of the finest natural snowdrop woodlands in the chuffing country – four fabulous acres. Visit Wed-Sun (11am-4pm) until 1 Mar.
Cerney House Gardens, Cheltenham
Open from 26 January, the v romantic Cerney House Gardens are a gorgeous, zen-like spot to see the snowdrops. With a wild woodland feel (there’s more than 40 acres in total) they are set around a Victorian Walled Garden – described by Country Living as ‘what most people aspire to in their gardens – and few achieve’. Indeed.
Benington Lordship Gardens, Herts
The Big One. It’s impossible to talk about snowdrops without naming Benington. Close to Walkern and Stevenage, Benington has the lot and, with 200 varieties surrounding the Norman castle and moat, is often cited as the best snowdrop site in the country. There’ll be snowdrops for sale, plus you can also catch a concert, every Sunday at 2.30pm, in St Peter’s Church. No dogs allowed (5 Feb – 1 Mar).
Chippenham Park Gardens, Cambs
Snowdrop walks, aconites, and all in gardens landscaped to an Anglo-Dutch design. At one point this estate was bought by a sugar baron, which leads me to the Potting Shed Cafe. Cake!
Waddesdon Manor, Bucks
Waddesdon’s gorgeous gardens are the jewel of the National Trust and look amazing all year round, but I especially love snowdrop season here – my favourite spot to see them is the knoll just around from the Aviary. The same ground is smothered in daffodils come March so make the most of the white stuff while it lasts.
Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick, Stroud
Painswick Rococo Garden has one of the largest plantings of snowdrops in the UK, with more than 5 million popping up each year – making it one of the county’s must see floral pop-ups.
It’s a wonderfully quirky place to visit too, the Rococo Garden was built as a ‘pleasure garden’ in the 1740s for the owner of Painswick House so it really gives us that ‘Secret Garden’ feel, explore its glorious glades and the fabulously named Snowdrop Grove near the maze. And when you’ve soaked up all that snowdrop scenery, head to the Coach House cafe for some homemade soup or a coffee. Even better, furry friends are all very welcome. Hurray.