Archive for visiting snowdrop gardens UK

Your February 2019 Snowdrop Trip to England

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, snowdrops, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2018 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

Expect fields of snowdrops and hardy cyclamen at Colesbourne Park.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens had been selling snowdrops for 25 years when we decided it was time to visit England during snowdrop season.  This was the trip of a lifetime for me, and my husband Michael was a very good sport about spending a vacation outside in winter looking at my favorite flower.  We both had so much fun that we returned in February 2018.  Now it’s time for you to plan your trip.  All the gardens described below are within driving distance of the Colesbourne Inn where I recommend that you stay.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops within the US.  For catalogues and announcements of local events, please send your full name, mailing address, and cell number to and indicate whether you are interested in snowdrops.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

This 11th century church on the grounds of Colesbourne Park is open for visitors on snowdrop weekends.

Although England is a popular vacation destination, most people don’t travel there in February.  That means you still have plenty of time to make airline reservations, and hotels are very inexpensive and practically empty.  However, once you arrive, you will find plenty of fellow gardeners from all over Europe and even Asia touring snowdrop venues and the winter gardens that surround them.


‘S. Arnott’ is the signature snowdrop at Colesbourne, but you will also see breath-taking sweeps of ‘Ophelia’, ‘Hippolyta’, ‘Colossus’, ‘Galatea’, and many more.

Your first stop should be Colesbourne Park, which is considered England’s greatest snowdrop garden.  It is located in the beautiful Churn Valley in the heart of unspoiled Gloucestershire, which is in the Cotswolds. Colesbourne’s ten-acre snowdrop garden is filled with sweeps of what must be millions of snowdrops and thousands of cyclamen plus a collection of more than 350 snowdrop cultivars, including many rare varieties, artfully displayed around the stone buildings. 


Colesbourne’s ethereal blue lake

Colesbourne has been owned by the Elwes family since 1789, and the snowdrop collection was started in 1874 when Henry John Elwes discovered the snowdrop that bears his name, Galanthus elwesii, in Turkey.  The current owners, Sir Henry and Lady Carolyn Elwes, are always present on snowdrop days to greet visitors and answer questions.  There is plenty to see in addition to snowdrops, including the 11th century church pictured above, the trails through the woods and around the surrounding 2,500 acre park, the scenic “blue” lake shown above, and the very impressive Colesbourne Arboretum of trees.

Colesbourne Park is open every Saturday and Sunday from February 2 to March 3, 2019, between 1 and 4:30 pm.  Local charities raise money by serving tea, coffee, and delicious cakes.  To view the Colesbourne website, click here.  For more photos of Colesbourne and its garden, read my blog post here.


Michael poses in front of a sequoia in the Colesbourne Arboretum, which contains 13 National and 37 Gloucestershire Champion Trees.


Rodmarton Manor

Rodmarton Manor was built in the 1920s in what is now called the Arts and Crafts style, and everything was made on site using local craftsmen.  The grandmother of the current owner and her head gardener designed the eight acres of gardens that surround the house, creating what is considered a premier example of the Arts and Crafts gardening movement.  The snowdrop collection is extensive with the base of trees in the orchard surrounded by many rare cultivars and snowdrops planted through out the dozens of garden “rooms”, a feature of Arts and Crafts style.


A planting of the very rare snowdrop ‘Rodmarton Regulus’ surrounds a tree in the orchard.

Rodmarton is near Colesbourne in a very scenic part of the Cotswolds close to Cirencester.  Snowdrop open days are generally on Sundays in February starting at 1:30 pm, but the 2019 schedule is not on the website yet.  If you get a chance to tour the inside of the house, don’t miss it.  View the Rodmarton website by clicking here.  For more photos of Rodmarton and its garden, read my blog post here.


Even without snowdrops, the Rodmarton Garden is well worth visiting especially if you are accompanied on your trip by a non-galanthophile.


Welford Park

Welford Park has an illustrious history, starting as the site of a monastery dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536 when it became the king’s deer hunting lodge.  The house, which was built around 1652, served as a convalescent home for soldiers wounded in World War I.  The gardens, woods, meadows, and river banks are awe inspiring because of the sheer number of winter aconites and snowdrops, all of which are Galanthus nivalis, the common snowdrop.  It is located in Welford, Berkshire, about an hour from Colesbourne.


Winter aconites and common snowdrops at Welford Park

Welford Park is open for snowdrops from January 30 to March 3, Wednesdays through Sundays, from 11 am to 4 pm.  A tearoom serves homemade cakes and homegrown sausages among other mouth-watering delicacies.  View the Welford website by clicking here.


A walk through Welford’s snowdrop woods is an unforgettable experience.


Painswick House through the trees on the right with two of the garden’s famous Rococo “follies” in the middle surrounded by the hillside covered in ‘Atkinsii’ snowdrops.  The orchard is in the foreground.

Also in Gloucestershire near Colesbourne, Painswick Rococo Garden is a marvel, not only for its glorious snowdrops, but also because it is the only surviving Rococo garden currently open to the public.  Painswick has the sweeping vistas, framed views, serpentine paths, and extravagant architectural features characteristic of the most lavish gardens of its style.  The garden plus the beautiful Snowdrop Grove and hillside covered in the tall and iconic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’, which was discovered at Painswick, make it a must see.


This curving Gothic screen called the Exedra is Painswick’s most famous folly.  Beyond it, you can see its formal garden, kitchen garden, bowling green, fish pond, and snowdrop woodland.

During February, Painswick is open every day from from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm.  There is a very good cafe on site with hot and cold lunches and homemade cake.  View the Painswick website by clicking here.  For more photos of Painswick and its garden, read my blog post here.


the Snowdrop Grove at Painswick


the private garden of John Massey, the owner of Ashwood Nurseries

Ashwood Nurseries is a world renowned nursery in Kingswinford in the West Midlands about 1 1/4 hours from Colesbourne.  It is famous for its winter and early spring-blooming plants like hellebores, cyclamen, snowdrops, hepaticas, and primroses but carries a wide-ranging selection of other plants at its canal side location in the lovely English countryside.  Last February, Michael and I attended a Snowdrop Lecture there, which included a private tour of John Massey’s personal garden. 


Snowdrops, hellebores, and cyclamen by the canal

Ashwood Nurseries is worth visiting just to see the nursery.  However, I highly recommend attending an event, especially one that includes a tour of the Massey garden, which is not open to the public.  In 2019, there is a Snowdrop Lecture on Tuesday, February 5, which includes a garden tour.  The morning session is already sold out.  John’s garden is open to raise money for charity on Saturday, February 9, from 10 am to 4 pm, no reservation necessary.  Through out February there are “behind the scenes” pre-booked Hellebore Tours.  There is a tearoom on site with hot and cold food, an open fire, and garden views.  For the Ashwood website, click here.


Just one of the hundreds of beautiful Ashwood hellebores


The historic Colesbourne Inn, located right outside the entrance to Colesbourne Park (sorry, not a great photo)

During your exploration of snowdrops and winter gardens, you can’t go wrong staying at the Colesbourne Inn.  A charming inn with very comfortable en suite rooms is combined with a traditional English pub and a gourmet dining room using fresh, local ingredients, including eggs raised by Lady Carolyn Elwes.  Have a cappuccino or beer by the cozy fire or enjoy a delicious meal in the high quality restaurant.

If you do go to England to see snowdrop gardens, please let me know about your trip.



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