The sight of snowdrops peeping through in January or February never fails to cheer us up – here's our pick of where to go and see them this winter.
An emblem of the end to the January gloom is already peeping through the mud, as the snowdrop season gets under way, promising snowy carpets to lift the spirits.
At Colesbourne Park, Gloucestershire, Sir Henry Elwes estimates his February snowdrops are coming in about two weeks ahead of the norm and even Scottish gardens are seeing early starts after a relatively mild month, so it’s worth planning trips to your favourites sooner rather than later, before it’s all over.
The NGS will be running its fourth annual snowdrop festival throughout February; all participating gardens are listed at www.ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/snowdrop-gardens.
Many National Trust gardens also offer magnificent displays, the details of which can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/places-to-see-snowdrops.
North of the border, the Scottish Snowdrop Festival gets under way from January 25 until March 11, with some 60 events in various locations; for details, visit www.visitscotland.com.
Below, we list some of the finest places across England to go and see these beautiful little flowers.
Berkshire – Welford Park
Said to have been planted by monks to decorate their church, Welford Park’s show of snowdrops is truly magnificent. January 30 to March 3.
Borders – Abbotsford
Impressive displays are already showing on the banks of the River Tweed at Abbotsford – snowdrops grow throughout the 120-acre estate, which is freely accessible all year round.
Cheshire – Rode Hall
There have been snowdrops at Rode Hall for nearly 200 years and they are considered one of the natural treasures of the North-West. February 2 to March 3, closed Mondays.
Cambridgeshire – Chippenham Park
Created at the end of the 17th century as an ‘Angle Dutch’ landscape comprising canals, park, woodland and formal gardens. 9th February – 31st March, open everyday.
Cheshire – Rode Hall
Boasts a Repton landscape in which snowdrops were first planted in 1833. There’s a farmer’s market on February 3 and March 3; Snowdrop Walks, February 3 to March 4.
Cumbria – Forde Abbey
Founded by Cistercian monks 900 years ago, with a garden developed in the 1700s – open every day with snowdrop weekends throughout February.
Dorset – Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival
The whole town goes Snowdrop mad throughout February, with a Study Day event on February 9.
Essex – The Gibberd Garden
Snowdrop Sundays, February 10, 17 and 24.
Exmoor – Wheddon Cross
The mysterious Snowdrop Valley is a remote, privately owned spot close to Wheddon Cross. Magnificent carpets of flowers from February 2 to March 3 with a park-and-ride system.
Fife – Cambo
The Cambo estate has 70 beautiful acres of woodland banks that are jam-packed with rare varieties. From January 27, with tours every weekday and specialist tours run every Friday until March 11.
Gloucestershire – Colesbourne Park
One of the first gardens to open for snowdrops two decades ago, Colesbourne Park offers some of the finest displays in the UK, with 300 varieties. Weekends between February 2 and March 3.
Kent – Goodnestone Park
Home of Jane Austen’s brother. February 10, 17 and March 3.
Kent – Hever Castle
Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, with some 70,000 snowdrops that include unusual varieties, such as the 9in-tall Colossus. Snowdrop Walks from the 9th February.
Lincolnshire – Easton Walled Gardens
The 400-year-old Easton Walled Gardens, called ‘a dream of Nirvana’ by President Roosevelt, will open daily from February 16 to 24 for snowdrop walks.
Norfolk – Walsingham Abbey
The spectacular priory drew pilgrims for centuries and now the snowdrops bring in the crowds, too. Snowdrop Charity Day on the 23rd February.
Northumberland – Howick Hall
The collection here was mostly planted between the World Wars by Lady Grey. February and March.
Peebleshire – Kailzie
Also has a two-mile stretch of the River Tweed for fly-fishing. February and March.
Surrey – Gatton Park
These marvellous gardens were designed by Capability Brown.
West Sussex – West Dean Gardens
More than 500,000 spring bulbs have been planted, not just snowdrops – open every day from February 1.
Yorkshire – Goldsborough Hall
A former royal residence, Goldsborough Hall, built in 1620 and remodelled in the 1750s, is opening its snowdrop walk from February 10 to 17, with more than 50 rare varieties.