Where to see snowdrops
The hardy snowdrop, that enchanting harbinger of spring, should not be inconvenienced by the recent awful weather, and the public's appetite for visiting cheering, romantic carpets of white flowers increases every year.
The Scottish Snowdrop Festival (www.nts.org.uk) is already under way, with properties participating including Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire (until February 28, 0844 493 2166), Hill of Tarvit, Cupar, Fife (until March 17, 0844 493 2185) and House of Dun, Montrose, Angus, which is offering tea and scones in the saloon on February 24 (until March 15, 01674 810264).
For a walk with a difference-chilly but magical- there is Snowdrops by Starlight at the Cambo Estate, St Andrews, Fife, on February 13-17 at 5pm. Tickets cost £10 (01333 450313; www.snowdropsbystarlight com). The popular Snowdrop Day at Dunblane, Perthshire, is on February 15 and speakers include Gerard Oud from the Netherlands and Sandy Leven on snowdrops in pots. Tickets are limited and cost £25 (email email@example.com).
For details of the many openings south of the border, visit the websites for the National Gardens Scheme (www.ngs.org.uk) and Great British Gardens (www. greatbritishgardens.co.uk).
The National Trust (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) names its 11 best snowdrop gardens as Fountains Abbey (Yorkshire), Kingston Lacy (Dorset), Anglesey Abbey (Cambridgeshire), The Argory (Co Armagh), Attingham Park (Shropshire), Chirk Castle (Shropshire), Dunham Massey (Cheshire), Ickworth (Suffolk), Mottisfont (Hampshire), Newark Park (Gloucestershire) and Nymans (West Sussex).
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Until February 10 RHS Wisley, Surrey, is running a week of talks and demonstrations on the February garden, and there will be snowdrops to buy (01483 211113; www.rhs.org.uk/wisley)
February 15-March 3 The Garden House, Saxby, Lincolnshire, 11am-4pm, £4 (01673 878820; www.thegardenhousesaxby.co.uk)
Until March 3 Hodsock Priory, Blyth, Nottinghamshire, plus special snowdrop breaks and talks (01909 591204; www. hodsockpriory.com)
Until March 3 Welford Park, Newbury, Berkshire, 11am-4pm, from Wednesday to Sunday, £5, plus plant fair on February 28 (01488 608691; www.welfordpark.co.uk)
Until March 3 Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield, East Yorkshire, 11am-4pm, £6 (01262 490324; www.burtonagnes.com)
Until February 10 Chelsea Physic Garden, London SW3, Snowdrop Days: A Winter Celebration, 10am-4pm, £9 (020-7349 6458; www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk)
February 17 and 24, Goldsborough Hall, North Yorkshire, 10am-4pm, £5 (01423 867321; www. goldsboroughhall.com)
February 8-24 Snowdrop Valley, Wheddon Cross, Somerset, with park-and-ride system (fare £4.50) into the Exmoor valley and cafe run by local volunteers (closed February 11 and 18-19) (07531 680445; www.wheddoncross.org.uk/snowdropvalley.htm)
February 24 Snowdrop and Hellebore Extravaganza, Goodnestone Park, Kent, 11am-4pm, £6 (01304 840107; www.goodnestoneparkgardens.co.uk) February 9-10, 16-17, 23-24 and March 2-3 Colesbourne Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. More than 250 varieties of snowdrop, 1-4.30pm (last entry), £7 (01242 870264; www.colesbournegardens.org.uk)
The Norfolk Snowdrop Trail, which is part of the National Gardens Scheme, starts at Lexham Hall, Litcham (February 10), moving to Bagthorpe Hall (February 24), Horstead House (February 24) and Chestnut Farm, West Beckham (February 28)
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