Big freeze causes late bloom for snowdrops

January’s snow, frost and unseasonably cold weather have had an adverse effect on Britain’s traditional snowdrop display, with many bulb flowers struggling to bloom.

Richard Todd, head gardener at the National Trust‘s Anglesey Abbey in Lode, Cambridgeshire, said that the abbey’s snowdrops had been ‘encased in concrete’ since December.

He added: ‘Everything has been buried under snow, but the biggest problem is the fact that there have been such heavy frosts. The ground was frozen rock solid and nothing could move in that.’

Guy Barter, from the Royal Horticultural Society, noted that the cold weather can cause localised flowering: ‘The weather so far experienced in Surrey is such that snowdrops are on the cusp of flowering, while in Cambridgeshire, they’ve been held back.

‘However, if snowdrops are delayed in flowering, so will other bulbs, such as irises and narcissi, so the sequence of flowering shouldn’t be unduly disturbed.’

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Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire, which has more than 250 varieties of snowdrop, has been affected this winter, according to owner Sir Henry Elwes: ‘The snow fell on very hard frosty ground, which plants can’t do anything with.’

However, Sir Elwes is optimistic about the next few weeks: ‘We’re hoping that the mild weather will do the trick. Once it warms up, it shouldn’t make a difference to how brilliantly they bloom.’

In this week’s issue of Country Life, out tomorrow (January 20), we reveal the best gardens around the country to visit at this time of year, all open for the National Gardens Scheme.

The Country Life Picture Library is home to beautiful and extraordinary images chronicling the last century, from country house architecture to the changing streets of our

villages and nature. Keep up to date with What’s New, including seasonal highlights, as well houses, gardens and all aspects of country life. This month, we’ve found some seasonal snowdrop images from the archives. To find out more, email

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