Snowdrop gardens are a highlight of winter, a chance to get outside and an early sign that spring is on the way. Here in the Cotswolds we are lucky to have several gardens that open for the snowdrop season ranging from those with specialist collections to others with mass displays.
This year there are more than ever as the National Gardens Scheme is launching its first Snowdrop Festival with more than 100 plots across England and Wales opening during February.
Add those to the gardens that open independently and there’s plenty of opportunity to get out and marvel at these dainty white blooms.
Here’s a quick look at some of the area’s snowdrop gardens. Several will be featured on ‘The Chatty Gardener’ in more detail over the next few weeks.
In severe weather gardens may close. Do check before travelling.
Snowdrops have been a part of this Arts and Crafts garden at Duntisbourne Abbots since it was developed in the early 20th century. The collection has 62 varieties, including ‘Cotswold Farm’, which are clustered under shrubs or conveniently set at eye level in the rock border. Mass displays are spread throughout the woods.
Cotswold Farm opens for Cobalt on February 6 and 7 from 11-3pm. It is also open on Mondays February 8, 15, 22, 29. Admission is £5, children enter free. Details: www.cotswoldfarmgardens.org.uk
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Painswick Rococo Garden
One of the Cotswolds quirkiest gardens, the tradition of visiting Painswick Rococo Garden to see the snowdrops stretches back to Victorian Snowdrop Sundays.
Today, the garden is known for its mass display of the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, although there are some smaller areas of named varieties. All are set against its iconic follies, including the Exedra and Red House.
The garden is open daily from 10.30-5pm. Details: http://www.rococogarden.org.uk/
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One of the biggest collections of snowdrops in the area, with 250 varieties, there are clumps of rarities for the snowdrop obsessed – better known as galanthophiles – and massed displays through woods for the rest. The winter garden also features cyclamen and hellebores while the curiously coloured lake is a highlight.
Colesbourne Park, between Cheltenham and Cirencester, is open Saturday and Sundays from 1pm to 4.30pm from January 30/31 to February 27/28. Admission is £7.50, children enter free. Details: http://www.colesbournegardens.org.uk/
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One of the stalwarts of the National Gardens Scheme, Trench Hill shows how snowdrops can be used as part of a mixed display. The highlight is the woodland walk where snowdrops, aconites and cyclamen will be followed by hellebores, narcissi and pulmonaria.
Trench Hill, at Sheepscombe, is open as part of the NGS Snowdrop Festival on February 14 and 21 from 11am to 5pm. Admission is £4, children enter free.
It may be an arboretum but Batsford has worked hard over recent years to extend its interest beyond trees. Snowdrops mark the start of a long spring display covering aconites, hellebores and narcissi. Far reaching-views make Batsford a great place to enjoy the winter Cotswold countryside.
Snowshill Manor & Garden
Rather than one big display, Snowshill Manor has snowdrops woven through its two-acre plot with aconites and hellebores also in flower now.
One of the National Trust’s smallest gardens, it is opening for just two days in February ahead of the start of the 2016 season in March.
Snowshill Manor garden will be open for the National Gardens Scheme on Saturday and Sunday February 13 and 14 from 2-4pm. Admission is £3.50, children’s entry free.
The Old Rectory
Designer and writer Mary Keen has been developing The Old Rectory at Duntisbore Rous for the past 20 years. Snowdrops are one of her interests and she has a number of different varieties. They are used with aconites and cyclamen to give a colourful winter welcome to the garden and are also found under fruit trees and in the ‘Wild Garden’. There is also a sizeable display of hellebores.
The Old Rectory is open for the NGS on Monday February 22 from 12-4pm. Admission is £5, children’s entry free.
Wild flowers are the backbone of the mile-long woodland walk at Home Farm, starting with snowdrops and moving on later in the season to wild narcissi, wood anemones, orchids, bluebells and primroses.
Home Farm is open for the NGS on Sundays January 31 and February 14 from 11am-3pm. Admission is £3, children enter free.
This romantic secluded garden set in a valley in North Cerney has a fine snowdrop collection that has been built up over many years. Named varieties are found in the central walled garden and beds near the entrance while the snowdrop walk through surrounding woodland has mass displays of the common snowdrop mixed with aconites. The garden also has a large display of hellebores.
Cerney Gardens, North Cerney, are open daily from January 20 from 10am to 4pm. Admission is £5, children’s entry £1. Details: http://www.cerneygardens.com/
One of the Cotswolds’ many Arts and Crafts gardens, Rodmarton Manor has a notable collection of around 150 different varieties of snowdrops. Winter is also a good time to see the ‘bones’ of this garden from the pleached limes to the Cotswold stone walls that divide it into rooms.
Rodmarton Manor is open on February 7, 14, 18, and 21 from 1.30pm. Garden only entry is £5, £1 for children aged 5-15. Details: http://www.rodmarton-manor.co.uk/
Newark Park falls firmly into the mass display group of snowdrop gardens. Rather than named rarities, the emphasis is on the effect of thousands of bulbs in woodland and on lawns alongside the former hunting lodge.
Newark Park is open for snowdrops from 11am to 4pm from Saturday February 13 to Monday February 29 inclusive, closed on Tuesdays. Admission is £7.80, £3.90 for children, under-fives enter free. Details: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/newark-park
Designed for year-round interest, this private garden has naturalised snowdrops in the ‘Millennium Wood’ and through a grove of silver birch. Clipped hedges and topiary give strong structure to the garden, which is set high on the Cotswold escarpment.
Camers, Old Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, is open from February 1 for parties of 20 or more. Details: http://www.camers.org/index.html
Details of the National Gardens Scheme Snowdrop Festival: http://www.ngs.org.uk/