Where to seeSnowdrops without a cararound the UK
Delicate white flowers herald the end of winter and the start of spring, forming beautiful carpets in woods and gardens. No wonder they have so many fans - or galanthophiles, as snowdrop-lovers are officially known. “Many, many welcomes, February fair-maid,” wrote Tennyson in his poem The Snowdrop. They actually start blooming from January onwards and often last into March. Here are ten different places across the UK where seeing snowdrops doesn’t need to involve a car.
Myddelton House, Enfield, Greater London
The little valley at the far end of the alpine meadow in the gardens of Myddelton House fills with snowdrops from January onwards. Enfield’s old market cross stands near the carp pond and there are greenhouses with four climactic zones, where you can find exotic blooms even in the depths of winter. The huge grounds of nearby Forty Hall are similarly beautiful in any season. Both are free, but you need to pay for parking so car-free is the best way to go.
- Getting there: The garden is half a mile from Turkey Street station. Turn right under the railway bridge and keep straight along Turkey Street, under the main road, across the New River and over another road to see Myddelton House ahead of you.
- Food and drink: Myddelton House has its own little tea room and there’s also a great café at Forty Hall, just down Bull’s Cross road.
- Further adventures: Discover more of the area’s hidden gems in our Good Journey guide to car free adventures around Enfield. Follow Good Journey’s directions around the River Lee Country Park.
Cambridge Botanic Garden
Thirty nine different types of snowdrops line the paths of Cambridge University Botanic Garden and complement the huge evergreen trees that tower over the walkways. You can pick up a Snowdrops Trail at the gate to make sure you don’t miss them. The Winter Garden is full of varied shapes and colours; fragrant wintersweet and viburnum make the air smell like spring. You can follow the winter garden path as it winds past snowdrops and yellow aconites under scarlet stems of dogwood or arches of white brambles. There are greenhouses too so you can warm up with a sudden blast of pungent tropical greenery.
- Getting there: Cambridge Botanic Garden is just five minutes’ walk from Cambridge Railway station, with direct trains from London and Norwich. Come out of the station and walk straight ahead. It’s at the end of the road and is open every day.
- Food and drink: The Garden Kitchen near the greenhouses serves quiches, sandwiches and homemade soup.
- Further adventures: There’s lots more to do in and around Cambridge. There are a few ideas here and more around Saffron Walden and Ely.
Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire
The jasmine-scented Winter Garden at Mottisfont flames with scarlet dogwood stems and bright pink cyclamen; the low sun shines through the loose papery bark of Chinese red birches and makes it gleam like amber. A February stream of blue Glory of the Snow under the lime trees echoes the trout-filled River Test flowing nearby. Swans glide past winding paths through glades of naturalised snowdrops.
- Getting there: It’s open daily and is a well-signed mile or so on foot across fields and along lanes from Mottisfont and Dunbridge railway station. The walk takes you past nesting rooks, an orchard and a 12th-century church.
- Head gardener Jonny Norton describes the waves of early spring flowers at Mottisfont, including: “masses and masses of different narcissi, which start blooming from March, building to a big crescendo of tulips and things; it becomes a carpet of spring”
- Living at Mottisfont from 1934, Maud Russell was the guiding light behind the gardens and the art collections inside. Her eclectic circle of friends included Ian Fleming, Rex Whistler and Russian emigree artist, Boris Anrep.
- Anrep, whose work includes the mosaic floors of the National Gallery, created the mosaic angel with Maud’s face near the entrance to the house under a tangle of wisteria.
- Deep in the Hampshire countryside, Mottisfont and Dunbridge station is just twenty minutes by train from Salisbury or Southampton.
- Food and drink: Old Kitchen café.