The carpets of white are coming! Here are the loveliest places to catch winter snowdrops across Berkshire 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 to venture outside and see them, here are the best snowdrop hotspots in our ‘hood and beyond.
Welford Park, Newbury, Berks
Why Welford Park? It’s only got one of the finest natural snowdrop woodlands in the chuffing country – four fabulous acres. The Norman monks at Welford Park, in Newbury, planted their snowdrops to decorate their Church for the feast of Candlemas and also for medicinal uses. Visit Wed-Sun (11am-4pm) from 29 Jan – 1 Mar.
Cliveden, Taplow, Berks
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. The flowers are now starting to spring up, with the Long Garden and Blenheim Pavilion promising the best displays.
Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Berks
A great spot if you fancy a stroll with your annual snowdrops. Basildon, in Lower Basildon 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.
Reading Abbey Ruins, Reading, Berks
A mini snowdrop trail that’s less carpet and more rug, but we are in Reading town centre. In 2017 volunteers planted 1,000 snowdrop plants to create a spring bulb trail to Reading Abbey Ruins and now you can see them in all their glory.
Stubbings House, Maidenhead, Berks
Stubbings House’s impressive parkland is only open a few weekends a year, as part of the National Garden Scheme. The estate was home to Queen Wilhelmina of Netherlands in WW2 and boasts a large lawn with ha-ha (an 18 century sunken fence, loved by ye olde Alan Titchmarsh) and woodland walks. Famous for its daff display, but the snowdrops are impressive too.
Heale House, Wilts
Heale House and its eight acres of stonking gardens lie beside the River Avon at Middle Woodford, just north of Salisbury. Much of the house is unchanged since King Charles II hid here in 1651 and at this time of the year you’ll enjoy sheets of yellow and white as the aconites and snowdrops break cover.
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 Ox, the gardens are running two Snowdrop Weekends, Sat 16 – Sun 17 and Sat 23 – Sun 24 Feb, with free guided tours of the grounds.
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*.
Swyncombe Downs, Oxon
A lesser-known hotspot, south of Ox, 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.
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, 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.
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 also catch a concert, every Sunday at 2.30pm, in St Peter’s Church. No dogs allowed.
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.
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? A load of different varieties spring up on the churchyard along with pretty cyclamen, crocuses and other spring bulbs.
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!
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.
Open for a select few dates in Feb, the early spring gardens have collections of snowdrops, hellebores and other colourful bulbs. The spaces also feature Pergolas, a wildlife pond, kitchen garden, and refreshments.