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Hope springs. The best places to see snowdrops

Snowdrops spark hope. The mere sight of them can make the spirits soar. Here are the best places to see snowdrops in the county, and for those of you who don’t mind crossing borders, I’ve included Cambridgeshire and Essex and even – fasten your seatbelts – Suffolk. Get out and enjoy them while they’re here.

Benington Lordship Gardens, near Stevenage, Weds 8 Feb – Sun 5 March

Benington Lordship Gardens

The Big One. It’s impossible to talk snowdrops without naming Benington. Close to Walkern and Stevenage, Benington has got the lot and it’s often cited as one of the best snowdrop sites in the country. Possibly the world. There are over 200 named varieties of snowdrop in the gardens and around the Norman castle and moat. The most familiar and abundant are the single and double Galanthus nivalis, both of which are on sale. While stocks last! Catch a snowdrop concert in St Peter’s Church. Cream teas and soup. Sadly no dogs. Benington Lordship Gardens Stevenage SG2 7BS Weds 8 Feb – Sun 5 March 12-4pm every day.

Walkern Hall, near Stevenage, Sat 18 Feb and Sun 19 Feb

Walkern Hall

At the time of writing, Kate de Boinville, who lives at Walkern Hall, tells me that there are lots of snowdrops everywhere she looks. But don’t look too closely at the photo, because I think it might be a daffodil shot. This stunning house is in a medieval hunting park and is also a wedding venue. Eight acres of snowdrops and aconites to admire. Warming soup and homemade cakes. Walkern Hall, Stevenage, SG2 7JA  Sat 18 – Sun 19 Feb 12-4.30pm

Old Church Cottage, Tring, Sat 25 and Sun 26 Feb

Old Church Cottage

Ancient yews, a Norman tower, a four hundred-year-old thatched cottage and muffins and mulled wine – what more could you want? Erm, some snowdrops, please. Well, you’ll get those too. Many different species and varieties and you’ll even see cyclamen, crocuses and other spring bulbs. Note from the owner: please park at the village hall because the garden is at the end of a narrow lane. Old Church Cottage, Chapel Lane, Long Marston, Tring, HP23 4QT Sat 25 – Sun 26 Feb

Ickworth, Suffolk

Ickworth House
Photo: National Trust

Yes, I know Suffolk isn’t exactly on our doorstep, but just in case you fancy a bit of a day out, I’ve included Ickworth. Fantastic grounds, big posh house, hip hop family hotel and splendiferous tea and cakes. Ickworth The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP29 5QE

Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex

Audley End
Photo: English Heritage

I went to Audley End recently and was completely fascinated by the recently refurbished nursery and the wallpaper that has been recreated from the original. Extensive grounds and a restored vegetable garden. Produce for sale. When I called to check on snowdrop progress, I was told that there are plenty, ready and waiting for you. Audley End Saffron Walden CB11 4JB

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Anglesey Abbey

Snowdrops were often planted by monks as a symbol of purity and Anglesey, a former priory, is a great example of monastic planting. It’s National Trust, so as you might expect, there’s a restaurant and everything else you could possibly need, and all tip top. Anglesey Abbey Quy Rd, Lode, Cambridge CB25 9EJ

Chippenham Park Gardens, Ely, Sat 11 Feb – Fri 3 March

Chippenham Park Gardens

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! And lots more. Chippenham Park Gardens Chippenham Park, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5PT Sat 11 Feb – Fri 3 March 10am-4pm

The Gibberd Garden, Harlow, Sunday 12, 19, 26 Feb

Gibberd Garden

A moated castle complete with drawbridge that was designed for children to play in, a lime tree avenue, and a seven acre sculpture garden sprinkled with the white heralds of spring. The Gibberd Garden and house was home to Frederick Gibberd, the architect who designed Harlow New Town. The wild garden provides the perfect place for hide and seek on Snowdrop Sundays. Hot soup and cakes. The Gibberd Garden, Marsh Lane Harlow, CM17 0NA, Sunday 12, 19 and 26 Feb. 11.30-4pm.

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