The best places to spot snowdrops
Drop everything, people – the snowdrops are coming out, meaning spring is on its way! Here’s our round-up of the loveliest local places to catch these winter buds.
Imagine skipping through carpets of dewy snowdrops, stretching as far as the eye can see. Sigh. Lucky for us, Beds and Herts have plenty of parks, gardens and woods where you can see these botanical beauties. You might even be able to warm up with a hot chocolate at some places. Just remember to give them a bell beforehand to find out what’s open and available, or if you need to book in advance et al. Then grab your homies and head on out for a tip toe amongst the snowdrops.
Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted
With 5,000 acres of the Chiltern Hills and woodland to romp around, there are plenty of walks to choose from on the estate, and you’re sure to find patches of perky little snowdrops on your way. What’s more, rumour has it that The Brownlow Café is open for a takeaway hot chockie or naughty cake (though do double check this before you go to avoid tears – and we’re not talking the littlies).
Heartwood Forest, near St Albans
This forest is a great option for all seasons, with excellent bluebells in the spring and a glorious wildflower meadow in the summer. Now though, you’ll be able to stroll through pretty sprinklings of snowdrops. Oh, and an added bonus is that Heartwood has easy-to-manage walks for even the littlest of legs.
The Knoll and The Folly, Pavenham
At the Knoll and Folly, you’ll find not one, but two gorgeous gardens full to bursting with snowdrops and other beautiful blooms. Part of the National Garden Scheme, a brilliant venture which gives the public access to over 3,500 privately owned gardens, these early-spring gardens ‘usually’ have extended open days for you to get a glimpse of their pearly-white snowdrop collections.
King’s Arms Garden, Ampthill
If you prefer your gardens, neat and petite, take yourself along to the King’s Arms. Its compact but perfectly formed one-and-a-half acre woodland gardens is blanketed with snowdrops, and usually opens just in time for the season in late Jan. Loads of snowdrop varieties, as well as other spring offerings in the pretty space. Part of the National Open Garden Scheme, you’ll need to pre-book your tickets for this one.
Benington Lordship Gardens, Benington
It’s impossible to talk snowdrops without naming Benington. Often cited as one of the best snowdrop hotspots in the country, the gardens teem with 200 varieties of the winter buds. Although opening times are to be confirmed at the mo, they’re keeping a close eye on government guidelines and if they can open for the snowdrop season, they surely will. Fingers and toes crossed, guys!
Old Church Cottage, Tring, Herts
Ancient yews, a Norman tower and a 400-year-old thatched cottage make for a perfect backdrop for snowdrops, am I right? Load of different varieties spring up on the churchyard, along with pretty cyclamen, crocuses and other spring bulbs. Another garden that’s part of the Open Garden Scheme, remember to pre-book your tickets while you’re checking opening days.
OK, not strictly in our counties, but just a bunny hop across the borders for those who live on the edge – literally. These huge gardens, originally created by Capability Brown, have loads to offer throughout the whole year, and that includes snowdrops galore in the tail end of winter. Just take a stroll through the Lime Tree Walk and you’ll find said snowdrops, along with winter aconites, and maybe even the odd daffodil will be poking through. Throw in amazing views over the valley and back to the house, and you’ll be in springtime heaven.
Walkern Hall, near Stevenage
This stunning house is in a medieval hunting park, where you’ll find 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 praying that the Potting Shed Café is open for takeaway cake!
For more beautiful local walks, head here