Snowdrop gardens are universally popular when it comes to garden visiting. From the passionate collectors – galanthophiles – to people who don’t garden themselves, everyone welcomes the chance to shake off the winter blues and get outside.
In the Cotswolds, there are several notable snowdrop gardens and many more with smaller displays.
Some of these are opening as part of the National Gardens Scheme Snowdrop Festival. More than 80 of the scheme’s members across the country will open during February to show off their snowdrop collections or spring displays of snowdrops, hellebores and other early flowers.
Launched last year as an addition to the regular charity openings, the festival proved very popular.
“During our first Snowdrop Festival in 2016 many of our garden owners were overwhelmed by the number of visitors that attended their openings,” says NGS chief executive George Plumptre.
So, whether you’re an enthusiast wanting to see unusual varieties or someone who loves the spectacle of a mass planting, there are many snowdrop gardens you can visit. Here’s what happening in the Cotswolds this year.
With all the gardens, it is advisable to check they are still open in the event of severe weather.
One of the best-known specialist displays is at Colesbourne Park, which has around 300 different varieties, one of the largest collections in the country.
Once the home of Victorian plant hunter Henry John Elwes, who introduced Galanthus elwesii, it has unusual varieties around the house and mass plantings through woodland and beside the unusual blue lake.
The garden, between Cheltenham and Cirencester, is open every Saturday and Sunday from Saturday February 4 until Sunday March 5. Gates open at 1pm with the last entry at 4.30pm. Admission is £8, children under 16 enter free.
Rodmarton Manor is another of the snowdrop gardens that appeals to collectors, with around 150 different varieties, including many that are rare.
Although the display begins in October, it is at its peak during January and February.
The garden, between Cirencester and Tetbury, also has many crocus, hellebores, cyclamen and aconites.
It is open on February 5, 12, 16, and 19 from 1.30pm with group bookings possible on other days.
Cotswold Farm Gardens
The snowdrop collection at this Arts and Crafts garden at Duntisbourne Abbots was started in the 1930s and has been developed since then by generations of the Birchall family.
Today, it numbers 62 different varieties, including ‘Cotswold Farm’. There are labelled clumps in the main flower borders and areas of naturalised snowdrops through woodland.
There is a ‘Winter Step Garden’ with a focus on scent and texture and the garden also has many hellebores, aconites, cyclamen and crocus.
It is open on Saturday and Sunday February 11 and 12 from 11-3pm in aid of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Entry is £5.
Cotswold Farm Gardens are also open on Mondays February 13, 20 and 27, from 11-3pm with entrance £5.
Cerney House Gardens
Cerney House is another private garden with a mix of named varieties of snowdrops and a naturalised display of the common snowdrop.
Special snowdrops are found around the house with more informal plantings in woodland around the central walled garden.
Aconites, cyclamen and borders full of hellebores add to the show in this garden at North Cerney between Cheltenham and Cirencester.
Cerney House Gardens are open daily from 10-5pm until the end of November. Admission is £5 for adults and £1 for children.
Painswick Rococo Garden
When it comes to a mass display, Painswick Rococo is one of the best snowdrop gardens.
Thousands of mainly Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop, put on a spectacular display through woodland with more naturalised in grass and teamed with other spring flowers in the borders.
There are some named varieties but it is sheer scale that makes this garden stand out.
Winter is also a great time to see the appreciate the structure of this idiosyncratic valley garden with its striking folly buildings.
Painswick Rococo Garden is open daily until October 31 from 10.30-5pm with a snowdrop talk every day at noon during February. Admission is £7.20 adults, children five to 16 £3.30 and the website includes updates on the snowdrops.
Batsford may be best known for its trees with beautiful spring blossom and stunning autumn colour but it also has many drifts of snowdrops.
Set alongside the privately owned Batsford Park, once the home of the Mitford sisters, the arboretum has a garden-like atmosphere with trees grouped for effect rather than by genus.
Snowdrops, hellebores, cyclamen and aconites make it a great place to visit in the winter with long views over the Cotswold countryside.
Batsford, near Moreton-in-Marsh, is open daily from 9-5pm and 10-5pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Admission is £7.95 adults, children aged four to 15 £3.50 (prices include voluntary 10% donation to the arboretum’s conservation work).
Newark Park is one of the snowdrop gardens where the appeal is the size of the display rather than the rarity of the flowers.
The snowdrops are naturalised around the old hunting lodge and through woodland on the estate. There are also long-reaching views thanks to the sloping site.
The National Trust property at Ozleworth is opening for a special snowdrop weekend on February 4 and 5 from 11am-4pm. Admission is £9 adults and £4.50 for children.
The NGS Snowdrop Festival
Four Gloucestershire gardens are opening for the National Gardens Scheme’s Snowdrop Festival.
Home Farm, Huntley, has lovely views and spring flowers along a one-mile walk through woodland and fields. It is open for the Snowdrop Festival on Sunday February 12 from 11-3pm. Admission is £3, free for children.
Lindors Country House, near Lydney, covers nine acres with woodland, streams and formal gardens. It is open for the festival on Saturday and Sunday February 25 and 26. Admission is £3.50, children enter free.
The Old Rectory at Avening has naturalised snowdrops, woodland and an Italianate terrace. It’s snowdrop opening is on Sunday February 19 from 11.30-4pm. Admission is £3.50, children’s entry free.
Trench Hill at Sheepscombe is well known for its spring display of snowdrops, aconites, hellebores and crocus. It has a woodland walk and good views over the Cotswold countryside. It’s open for the festival on Sundays February 12 and 19 from 11-5pm. Admission is 4, children enter free.
For more details on the Snowdrop Festival and for the gardens’ other opening dates, visit the NGS website.
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