Winter Walks: Snowdrop Walks Near You
Galanthophiles up and down the country are wrapped up warm and heading out to wander through gardens and woodland in search of snowdrops.
The first signs of spring are signposted by delicate blooms of snowdrops (or Galanthus) shooting up from the frosty ground.
Lord Tennyson put it in his own words, seeing the snow-white buds is a welcome sight after a hard winter… and I think we can all agree that this winter has been harder than most.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best snowdrop walks across the country – and each one is local to one of our nine showsites.
Whilst we are not encouraging you to travel further than your local area for your daily walk, if one of the locations below is too far for you to travel, we suggest doing a quick internet search to find one closer to home.
For the last four years, the National Open Garden Scheme has run a nation-wide Snowdrop Festival through the month of February, where personal gardens have been open to eager visitors as part of the scheme. This year, a limited number of gardens in England with appropriate space will be available to local visitors for exercise, and although we can’t guarantee there will be carpets of snowdrops at them all, there will doubtless be lots of other early spring bloomers on show. Find your nearest here.
Alternatively, you can join in the fun online as The Garden House is taking their annual Snowdrop Festival online for all of us far and wide to feel involved.
Shepperton, Greater London
Did you know that Galanthus nivalis – the common snowdrop – contains a chemical compound used in the treatment and management of Alzheimer’s disease? First established to be a place to grow and learn about medicinal plants in 1673, Chelsea Physic Garden opens after winter closure at the first signs of spring, in late January. Tick each snowdrop variety off the list as you take the self-guided trail around the garden, passing many sites of interest and other spring plants and flowers. There is a spring photography competition running at the moment with the theme of ‘taking notice’, so make sure to take along your photographer’s eye too.
Set in a dramatic, sweeping valley, deep within the Chiltern Hills, the lush parkland of Stonor offers three gardens for vistors to meander through alongside the surrounding grounds; the 17th Century Italianate Pleasure Garden, the Kitchen Garden and the Arboretum. The winter gardens are home to Stonor’s snowdrop collection, with early viburnums and sweet box on show. Keep your eyes peeled for the first signs of hellebores, primroses and other spring flowers emerging too as you enjoy the views across the park.
As one of the few gardens in the North West that is (usually) open to the public for snowdrop walks, Rode Hall’s pleasure gardens are a joy to behold. Like many others, this year they have had to take the decision to cancel their annual event celebrating the snowdrop bloom, but another option for locals based more towards Derbyshire is Hardwick Hall. You can find most of Hardwick’s snowdrops clustered in the east and west corners of the South Court of this grand Elizabethan National Trust property.
The stunning Welford Park may be familiar to you as the location where the Great British Bake Off is filmed, but it’s also one of the best places close to Chippenham that you can usually see an incredible display of snowdrops. Alas, this year they are unable to open. For an alternative-yet-equally-impressive snowdrop scouting session, you can head to Lacock Abbey where the delightful display of Galanthus and aconites come to flower in February and early March.
Created in 1845, Hill Close Gardens detached gardens were an extension of local residents’ homes, before back gardens were typically attached to houses. Saved from housing development in the 1990s, the gardens have been restored to their former glory, each of the sixteen gardens is unique in their own right, and tells a story of their former owners. Now Grade II listed, the beautifully quirky gardens are open to visitors for the snowdrop season.
East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire
For our Nottinghamshire based readers, Hodsock Priory is one of the most highly recommended spots for spotting snowdrops, but it’s currently closed to visitors due to Covid. Alternatively, Calke Abbey owned by the National Trust offers and equally pleasing walk around its grounds. There’s a great walking trail that takes you from Calke to neighbouring Dimminsdale Nature Reserve which passes some great displays of snowdrops on the 2.5 mile circular loop.
According to Country Life, Colesbourne Gardens is ‘England’s greatest snowdrop garden’, and it’s not hard to see why. Sprawling over ten acres, the present-day collection of over 350 cultivars have been built up over years by renowned collectors and is one of the most varied collections on display. The grounds consist of private gardens and woodland walks with a mix of hellebores, cyclamen and a wide variety of early flowering shrubs to accompany the spread of snowdrops. With a timed entry booking system in place at the moment, local visitors will be the lucky ones to witness this years bloom.
The annual Snowdrop Festival hosted by The Garden House is a must-attend event on any Galanthopile’s calendar. Known as one of the finest gardens in Britain and with one of the best collections of snowdrops in the world, the ten acres of gardens here have nearly 250 named cultivars and species of snowdrop to watch bloom between the months of September and March, with a particular burst between January and February. Whilst the gardens are still open for the local community to walk around, those who – in a normal world – may wish to travel to see the blooms will be able to do so online this year, via the Virtual Snowdrop Festival.
Wakehurst in the heart of Sussex is a wild botanic garden, home to the Millennium Seed Bank and over 500 acres of the world’s plants. As the sister site to Kew Gardens, there’s a plethora to discover on future trips, but for now we’re most concerned about the Winter Garden within the Mansion Gardens. The perfect place to lift the spirits on a cold winter’s day, swathes of white snowdrops and purple Cyclamen weave in and out of other winter planting which makes for a full sensory experience. Wakehurst were the first in the UK to plant a winter garden back in 1986 and in 2017 they decided to transform the original winter wonder into the contemporary delight it is today.