Posted by: lensweb | January 15, 2012

Snowdrops 2012

snowdrop - Galanthus elwesii image

Galanthus elwesii – photographed at Hodsock Priory © Marion Bryce

In recent years I have become somewhat of a Galanthophile. I have fallen in love with the timid, nodding heads of the milk white flowers that are one of the first harbingers of Spring. The first snowdrops to flower in my garden this year were hybrids of Galanthus elwesii, originally from Turkey. They actually flowered before the new year. The leaves of snowdrops are the most reliable for identification, G elwesii has wide grey green leaves cupped around each other at the base. The flower often has green patches on the top and the bottom of the corolla tube whereas most snowdrop flowers have only a single mark. Some giant varieties have been bred from this species.

Galanthus woronowii, another early flowering species with wide, green, shiny leaves and also from Turkey, and although known in this country for more than a century it has only recently started to be widely planted in parks and gardens. CITES support sustainable harvesting and monitor the snowdrop trade to ensure wild populations are not endangered. There are nineteen wild species of snowdrop.

The Crimean or pleated snowdrop Galanthus plicatus is late flowering and has wide, grey green leaves with in-rolled margins held flat together at the base and often a silver central stripe. It is sometimes found in old gardens.

Galanthus nivalis which is starting to flower now, has narrow strap like dark green leaves held flat against each other at the base. This is found in many churchyards, grass verges and woodlands. Elvaston Castle churchyard has good displays, Gonalston Church is a bit further afield but has a lovely display of aconites and snowdrops. These ‘native’ snowdrops were probably introduced by monks from Europe in the 16th century. The flowers have a single green V mark on the corolla tube and many double varieties have been bred. There are now over 700 named varieties of snowdrop.

To see breathtakingly wonderful displays of snowdrops I go to Dimminsdale SK 376219. This is a 6.5ha nature reserve owned by Severn Trent Water and managed by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. The reserve lies at the head of Staunton Harold Reservoir near Calke Abbey. It is best approached via the B587, north from the A42 Ashby junction. Follow the road for 2 km past Staunton Harold Hall, take the first left turn towards Calke and park in the Picnic Area car park, which is on the left before reaching the reservoir. Access to the reserve itself is on the roadside about 50 m beyond the bridge over the reservoir. Please keep to the paths – it is dangerous to stray from them, as there are several old mine shafts on the reserve. The path around the reserve is almost all through mixed woodland. The Laundry Pool, acts as a settling pond for the Calke Brook which marks the border of Derbyshire and Leicestershire. In January and February, a large number of snowdrops bloom at the south-western end of the reserve.

Hopton Hall is open everyday from Wednesday 1st February to Sunday 4th March 2012. An entry fee is charged. The Hall can trace its roots back to the 1400’s. Since 1996, the woodland and its walks have been restored and this has produced wonderful displays of snowdrops and aconites. The Beech, Badger and Spring walks have been created also a small Arboretum and Pinetum, two small ponds and a wildlife lake. There are 2 km of meandering paths through a 1 acre walled garden, along the croquet lawn & rosewalk, around 2 ornamental ponds leading to a wildlife lake.

Snowdrops at Elvaston image

Snowdrops at Elvaston © Marion Bryce

Felley Priory Gardens are situated just half a mile from Junction 27 of the M1. Felley Priory, Jacksdale, Nottinghamshire, NG16 5FJ. Take the A608 to Heanor for half a mile and the entrance to Felley Priory is on the left. This tranquil garden is said to be one of Nottinghamshire’s best kept secrets – the house and its 2.5 acre garden are nestled in beautiful rolling countryside. Throughout the month of February, a collection of over 60 different varieties of snowdrops grow in the garden.  Snowdrop February starts on the 1st, February and ends February 29, 2012. The garden has been carefully planted so that there are plants of interest all year round and has a fully stocked nursery, from which visitors can purchase plants which they have seen in the garden.

For snowdrop madness go to Hodsock Priory, Blyth, Nottinghamshire Open 4 February to 4 March. An entry fee is charged. The Snowdrop winter garden is nestled in the 800 acre Hodsock estate. Along with more than 100 acres of woodland, the snowdrops cover around 5 acres of the estate with large plantings of named varieties plus woodland walks with naturalised snowdrops. There’s a well signed, cordoned walk around the gardens with short cuts for those who are less mobile and walk extensions for those wanting to roam the woodland. Enjoy a bacon butty and cuppa by the bonfire each weekend at Mr Ford’s Potting Shed. The Café Bar serves up hot and cold home-made food. Snowdrop souvenirs and high quality merchandise can be found in the gift shop. This is a real snowdrop experience.



  1. very nice article I also always look forward to the first flowers in spring


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