All over Britain, garden owners are showing off their cheerful carpets of snowdrops, with more and more seizing the opportunity to attract visitors desperate to get out into a garden after the long winter and to raise money for charity. ‘Once, the number of gardens open in March could be counted in single figures,’ says George Plumptre, chief executive of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).

‘Now, more people are planting early flowers, such as snowdrops and hellebores. Regardless of the cold, people want to get out and look at gardens, and the snowdrops will tide them over until Easter and the main openings. I’ve heard of places recording as many as 40,000 visitors and we [at Goodnestone Park] consistently get more visitors on our snowdrop day than any other day of the year. Visitors expect gardens to have a certain standard of appearance by May or June, but they know it won’t be immaculate in February they just want an outing.’

Chris Morley, marketing manager of the NGS, agrees that there is anecdotal evidence of a rise in openings at this time of year. ‘Realisation is dawning that there is a market,’ he says. ‘People are dying for spring to come.’

Where to see snowdrops

February 11-12 Hartland Abbey, Hartland, north Devon. 11am-4pm (01237 441234; www.hartlandabbey.com)
February 11-12, 18-19 Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire. Tickets £3 (01604 686543; www.kelmarsh.com)
February 11-19 Starlit snowdrop walk, Cambo, Fife. Tickets £9-£12, book in advance (01333 450054; www.snowdropsbystarlight.com)
February 11-19 Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent (01732 865224; www.hevercastle.co.uk)
February 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset (01460 221290; www.fordeabbey.co.uk)
February 12, 19 Goldsborough Hall, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire (01423 867321;
www.goldsboroughhall.com)
February 12, 19 Pencarrow, Bodmin, Cornwall (01208 841369; www.pencarrow.co.uk)
Until February 12 Chelsea Physic Garden, London
SW3 (020-7349 6458; www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk)
February 18 Spring snowdrops and British Iris Show, Myddelton House Gardens, Enfield, Middlesex (0845 677 0600; www.leevalleypark.org.uk)
February 18-19, 25-26 Waterperry gardens, Wheatley, Oxfordshire (www.waterperrygardens.co.uk; 01844 339226)
February 19 Snowdrop and hellebore day, Goodnestone Park, Canterbury, Kent (01304 840107; www.goodnestoneparkgardens.co.uk)
Until February 29, Chirk Castle, Wrexham, Clwyd (01691 777701; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chirk-castle)
February 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, The Argory, Co Armagh (028-8778 4753)
Until March 4 (except Mondays and Tuesdays), Welford Park, Newbury, Berkshire (01488 608691; www.welfordpark.co.uk)
Until March 4, Snowdrop Valley, Wheddon Cross, Somerset, park and ride operates until February 26 (07531 680445; www.wheddoncross.org.uk)
Until March 11 Rode Hall, Scholar Green, Cheshire, 12 noon-4pm (01270 873237; www.rodehall.co.uk)

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