Snowdrop spotting with the National Trust in Sussex and Hampshire
The beloved snowdrop traditionally heralds the end of winter and reminds us of brighter spring days to come this February half term 2016
From late January to early March, displays of these spring harbingers start to appear at Nymans and Petworth House and Park, and at Mottisfont, Hinton Ampner and The Vyne in Hampshire.
Stephen Herrington, head gardener at Nymans:
“It’s always a joy when the first snowdrops break through the frozen ground. Along with aconites and primroses, they are the harbingers of spring. They are best seen in half-light and, of course, amidst the winter snow; on mild, late winter days, they are beloved by honey bees.”
Here are the special National Trust places in Sussex and Hampshire to enjoy snowdrops:
In this famous spring garden you’ll spot displays of snowdrops as well as camellias and magnolias underplanted with daffodils and grape hyacinths.
The bulb meadow in the walled garden is littered with snowdrops and early narcissus and there are rare hellebores all around the garden.
By Valentine’s Day, over 150 different types of plant are flowering at Nymans, offering cool contrasts to fiery witch hazel oranges and the rich red stems of the dogwoods.
Update: Nymans has reported that its vibrantly coloured rhododendrons are also in bloom!
Nymans winter interest walk with the Head Gardener, 18 February, 11am – 12pm
Take in the seasonal highlights of the garden and Arboretum on a guided tour with the Head Gardener at Nymans.
Find out what is at its best in winter and what to look forward to in the following months. You can get expert advice for your own garden too.
Price: £5 (normal admission fee applies)
For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nymans or call 01444 405250.
Petworth House and Park
This glorious country estate, with its 700 acre deer park and far-reaching views across the South Downs, makes a great setting for a winter walk.
The parkland’s many gnarled and twisted ancient trees are a wonderful focal point, but if you stroll along the woodland walk in the Pleasure Grounds surrounding the house you’ll discover lots of tiny single and double-petalled snowdrops beneath the tree canopy.
Thousands of wild yellow primroses are also on view.
For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house or call 01798 342207.
Snowdrops appear along the banks of the Font stream of this ancient former priory, where the warmer water creates its own microclimate.
Elsewhere, the open acres of the river garden are littered with clusters of purest white.
Mottisfont also contains the National Trust’s newest winter garden, exploring the potential of plants that are at their most beautiful and interesting when most are in hibernation.
The garden blends a number of unusual varieties that are rich in colour and scent. Gullies of foliage plants appear to wind through the banks of willow and spill into the stream.
As winter creeps in, the garden becomes a refuge for late flowering shrubs such as mahonia, bright-stemmed cornus and silvery rubus, sweet-smelling winter honeysuckle and daphne.
For information on opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont or call 01794 340757.
You’ll find hundreds of delicate snowdrops beneath the trees on the East Lawn at Hinton Ampner, which, even in the depths of winter, is full of scent and colour.
Hinton’s previous owner, Ralph Dutton, designed the East Lawn of this garden around the tiny parish church in the grounds.
He knew that even in the colder months, the church’s congregation would gather on the grass after the Sunday service, so he planted the church border with fragrant winter flowers such as daphnes, which have a zingy lime scent and tiny pink flowers.
There are pretty hellebores too, as well as the golden-flowered Cornelian cherry.
Hedging of sweet box Sarcococcas fills the air with a heady honey scent. Elsewhere, you’ll discover delicate winter aconites and colourful crocuses.
For information on opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hinton-ampner or call 01962 771305.
Snowdrop ribbon at The Vyne
One of the first sights to meet visitors in early February is a pretty ribbon of pearly white snowdrops that appears at the entrance to these gardens.
Further snowdrop displays can be found in the wild garden, mingling with Spring snowflakes.
Look out also for floral gems such as yellow winter aconites and candy-pink viburnum, and if you peer upwards into the trees you’ll see great clusters of mistletoe covered with pearly berries.
Winter is also a great time to indulge the olfactory senses – seek out the delicious fragrance of flowering daphne and mahonia.
For information on opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/vyne or call 01256 883858
To plan a family day out with the National Trust visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast.
Tea rooms and shops are open at all the properties listed above in February, but house opening dates and times vary. Please check these before you visit.