They're coming out! The loveliest places to catch winter snowdrops across Herts and beyond over the next few weeks.
Shorts and sandals at the ready, spring is here. Er, okay maybe not, but the snowdrops are! If you’ve thawed out enough after Jan to venture outside and see them, here are the best snowdrop hotspots in our ‘hood and beyond.
Walkern Hall, Herts
This stunning Georgian manor house set in a medieval hunting park is also a wedding venue and popular filming location. Eight acres of snowdrops and aconites to admire as well as homemade cakes inside. Go see the gardens in all their glory as part of the National Open Garden Scheme from 8 Feb.
Old Church Cottage, Tring, Herts
Ancient yews, a Norman tower and a four hundred 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. Their open days are 15 and 16 Feb.
Benington Lordship Gardens, 5 Feb – 1 Mar, Herts
The Big One. It’s impossible to talk about snowdrops without naming Benington. Close to Walkern and Stevenage, Benington has the lot and, with 200 varieties surrounding the Norman castle and moat, is often cited as the best snowdrop site in the country. You can buy snowdrops in pots to take home, grab a cuppa in the tea room and also catch a concert, every Sunday at 2.30pm, in St Peter’s Church. No dogs allowed.
King’s Arms Garden, Beds
A smaller space for snowdrops, the one and a half acre woodland gardens open just in time for the season in late Jan. Loads of snowdrop varieties as well as other spring offerings in the pretty space. There’s an open day on 23 Feb.
The Knoll and The Folly, Beds
Part of the National Garden Scheme, a brilliant venture which gives the public access to over 3,500 privately owned gardens, The Knoll and The Folly have extended open days this year for you to get a glimpse of the space’s snowdrop collections. They’ll be open on 5, 11, 14, 22, 24 Feb.
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Hughenden Manor , Bucks
You’ll get more than just snowdrops over at Hughenden, two miles north of High Wycombe. By early spring the huge 680 acres is carpeted in all sorts of seasonal foliage; scilla siberica, daphne mezereum and bergenia cordifolia, adding bright pinks and purples to the grounds *gets camera ready*.
Stowe Gardens , Bucks
And there we were thinking Stowe gardens couldn’t get any more picturesque. Stowe loves its snowdrops, or should I say Stowedrops (their pun, not mine!), with the vast landscape gardens usually carpeted until the end of Feb. Hit up the Elysian Fields, Sleeping Wood and Lamport Garden to see the best of them.
Waddesdon Manor, Bucks
Waddesdon’s gorgeous gardens are the jewel of the National Trust and look amazing all year round, but I especially love snowdrop season here – my favourite spot to see them is the knoll just around from the Aviary. The same ground is smothered in daffodils come March so make the most of the white stuff while it lasts.
Cliveden , Bucks
Cliveden’s snowdrop scene had an upgrade back in 2017 when former head gardener and Amersham based charity TalkBack planted over 36,000 seeds on the grounds. Head to the Long Garden and Blenheim Pavilion for the best carpet of white.
West Wycombe Park, Wycombe
Home to the Dashwood family, the elegant Palladian house (you may recognise it from Downton Abbey and Dr Thorne) and 45 acres of landscaped park are kept neatly manicured all year round with the added beauty of snowdrops in winter. For more of the pearly flowers, take a walk into the historic West Wycombe village.
Waterperry Gardens , Oxon
It’s snowdrops in abundance over at Waterperry Gardens with over 60 varieties of the white bloomer springing up across the site’s eight acres. A half hour drive west of central Oxford, the gardens are running a snowdrop weekend (22 – 23 Feb) with guided tours of the grounds included in entry price (Adults £8.50, children aged 16 and under free).
Kingston Bagpuiz House, nr Abingdon
This impressive country gaff in the Vale of White Horse was used as a filming location for Downton Abbey so has beautiful British gardens nailed. Snowdrops pop up across the formal gardens, terrace walk, woodland garden and surrounding parks, plus there’s a snowdrop and plant fair coming up on 23 Feb.
Swyncombe Downs, Oxon
A lesser known hotspot, in south Oxfordshire, snowdrops and bright yellow aconites usually spring up around St. Botolph church’s 1000 year old grounds in Feb and early Mar. If you fancy a walk, you can head on to the ridgeway and across Swyncombe Estate.
Worcester College, University of Oxford
It’s unusual to get such an impressive display of snowdrops in a city centre, which is why Worcester College is such a gem. The flowers have been growing here for hundreds of years with Worcester’s records revealing that six bunches wee bought for 1 shilling and sixpence back in 1863 (spoiler: there are a lot more than that now).
Thenford Arboretum, nr Banbury
This privately owned arboretum is home to over 5000 trees and shrubs including an impressive display of snowdrops weaved amongst the sculpture gardens, water gardens and medieval fish ponds. The gardens are only open to the public for a few dates each year with snowdrop season prime time to have a wander around for a few hours. Open days are on 5 & 15 Feb (tickets £12).
Basildon Park, Berks
A great spot if you fancy a stroll with your annual snowdrops. Basildon, on the Berks border, has loads of different routes around its 400 acre parkland and gardens including the green walk through the woodland, or the longer three mile orange route around the estate’s boundary.
Welford Park, Berks
Why Welford Park? It’s only got one the finest natural snowdrop woodlands in the chuffing country – four fabulous acres. Visit Wed-Sun (11am-4pm) until 1 Mar.
Anglesey Abbey, Cambs
Back in the old days snowdrops were planted by monks as a symbol of purity with Anglesey, a former priory, a great example of monastic planting. It’s National Trust, so it offers your usual restaurant and shops and even a second hand bookshop.
Chippenham Park Gardens, Cambs
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!