Snowdrop season 2024: The UK's best places to see these short-lived symbols of the coming spring
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British fields and woodlands are awash in a wave of white right now - but it's not banks of snow or dustings of frost painting the landscape in pale hues.
The UK's snowdrop season is in full swing right, but like so many good things in life it's set to be fleeting. The late winter bloomers usually only raise their heads from late January through to early March, so if you'd like to make a trip out of ambling through a whole field of snowdrops in its full glory, the next couple of weeks is the best time to do so.
According to the Woodland Trust, these dainty white flowers are not native to the British Isles, and were likely brought over from Europe as a decorative plant hundreds of years ago. But that doesn't mean they provide no benefit to nature - they are rich in nectar and pollen, and are often visited by hungry bees waking up as the winter days become warmer.
Often seen as a harbinger of the coming spring, smattering of snowdrops can be found growing in all sorts of places. From spectacular gardens to sites of historic interest, here are a few of the best places to see snowdrop displays this winter:
Anglesey Abbey and Gardens, Cambridgeshire
An attractive country estate built on the former grounds of a 12th Century monastery, this National Trust site is also home to 98 acres of gardens. If that isn't reason enough to visit, it's flooded with snowdrops this time of year - with a bit of a difference.
Anglesey Abbey is home to an actual snowdrop collection, one of the biggest in the country. There are more than 400 different varieties on display, some of which are quite rare, and some of which were even discovered at the abbey - and have been after its historic owners or gardeners.
The abbey is in the tiny village of Lode, about nine kilometres northeast of Cambridge. Unfortunately, guided tours of its special, private collection of snowdrops are now sold out for 2024 according to the National Trust website, but you can still enjoy hundreds of snowdrops blooming across the grounds. Be sure to check out the Woodland Path, where they can be found mixed in with daffodils and hellebores, and its Winter Garden area.
Entry is free for National Trust members and children under five, or £16 for an adult and £8 for a child - with special group and family prices available.
Wallington Estate, Northumberland
Fancy planting some snowdrops of your own these school holidays, while enjoying hundreds of thousands of the spectacular blooms? Look no further than Wallington, another historic country house gifted to the National Trust by so-called 'Socialist MP' Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan - complete with the nature-loving politician's 13,500-acre estate.
Since 2015, the Trust has held snowdrop planting days on the estate, with some 900,000 bulbs in the ground at this point - creating some vibrant and truly impressive displays. This year will be no exception, with events taking place every day from 17 to 25 February - and 100,000 new snowdrops to plant. Once you've planted some of your own, you're invited to take a walk through the grounds' woodland, and soak in the carpets of snowdrops planted in years gone by.
The planting events themselves are free, but you will still need to pay the garden admission price of £11 for adults, £5.50 for children, or £27.50 for a family. You can find out more about times for the planting events online here.
Cambo Estate, Fife
According to NationalWorld's sister publication, the Scotsman, this is one of the best places in all of Europe to see snowdrops. Yet another attractive country home of historic significance, the grounds of this one dissolve from magical woodlands to golden beaches.
The estate looks after the Plant Heritage national snowdrop collection, offering up an impressive 200 varieties to take in as visitors walk through its seasonal gardens down to the sea. Cambo's 'snowdrop festival' runs until 10 March this year, and you can even buy some of the spectacular bulbs to take home for yourself - with the money going to a good cause.
The estate is near the village of Kingsbarns in northeast Fife (Scotland). Entry to the festival is £7.60 per person, although kids and carers go free. You can book tickets online here.
Goldsborough Hall, North Yorkshire
This former royal residence, near Knaresborough, is busy preparing to open its grounds to visitors for a series of snowdrop days this month, to showcase its spectacular pre-spring crop.
Head gardener Mark Waller told the Yorkshire Post there will be more than 140 different types of snowdrops to view. "Every aspect of the snowdrop structure, you can find variations within it. Either it be the flower itself, the strapping leaves, the different markings on the petals."
As well as coming in a range of shapes and sizes, the Goldsborough Hall flowers were “robust little things", he said, which still make an impressive display even after recent winds and the rains. If you're lucky, you'll also see delicate hellebores and winter aconites woven throughout the flowerbeds.
Garden viewings and 'snowdrop Sunday' events are being held on limited dates only, so find out if there's one which fits your schedule here. Tickets are £7.50 per adult, with children free - and leashed dogs are welcome too.
Chelsea Physic Garden, London
This hidden gem is one of Europe's oldest botanical gardens, founded in the 1600s for apothecaries to study medicinal plants. Occupying four acres on the edge of the River Thames, it boasts an impressive collection of plants that humans have found all sorts of uses for throughout the centuries.
It also has a wonderful collection of early spring flowers, including snowdrops, in bloom at the moment. It also offers a fun opportunity to learn a little more about them, and the 19th Century 'galantophiles' behind the snowdrop-viewing trend, and many of the flower's modern cultivars.
While its official 'Heralding Spring' event is already over, there's still time to stop in and enjoy the snowdrops. Entry to the gardens is £10 for adults, and £5 for students and young people - it's recommended you book ahead online here.