WELCOMING THE SNOWDROP
By Ann Evans
If you’re looking forward to spring and getting out into the garden, then now is the time to look out for Snowdrop Weekends. These hardy little flowers make their appearance from now until March, pushing up through winter’s cold and frosty soil, heralding the start of spring and warmer days.
Many stately homes, National Trust properties and local gardens will be holding their own Snowdrop Weekends around this time, so make sure you go along and enjoy the magnificent display, wherever you live. You’ll find a list of Snowdrop Weekends on the National Garden’s Scheme website. And of course their Yellow book will reveal which gardens are opening up to the public throughout the year. Their website is: http://www.ngs.org.uk/
In Warwickshire, one of the gardens holding a Snowdrop Weekend is Hill Close Victorian Leisure Gardens in Warwick. This takes place on 6-7th February (11am-4pm) and again on Saturday 20th January for the National Gardens Scheme. The gardens, incidentally are open to the public throughout the year – but check out their winter and summer opening hours and days. http://www.hillclosegardens.com/
Visitors to Hill Close Gardens will discover tranquil and well cared for plots of flowers, trees and vegetables, the varieties of which date back to the nineteenth century and earlier. In those Victorian times such plots could be found all over the country. Little havens where people could enjoy fresh air have a place to grow their own produce. Over time, the development of cities and roads wiped out these Victorian gardens.
Not so very long ago Hill Close was on the brink of being turned into a housing development. It had been left uncared for, for decades. It was an impenetrable mass of head-high brambles and crumbling summer houses. Fortunately a handful of passionate local gardeners realised that an important part of England’s gardening heritage was about to disappear, and set about putting things right. A group known as the Lammas and District Residents Association was formed and volunteers were enlisted to bring the gardens back to life. Now through the incredible hard work of the volunteers, these lovely gardens have been restored to their former glory. Visitors will now discover a tranquil collection of gardens, plots and restored Victorian summer houses.
As for the snowdrops, or Galanthus to give their botanical name, more than 80 varieties will be popping their heads up out of the wintery earth. You’ll find a border with the ‘older’ snowdrops, pre 1900 growing which includes the Warwickshire Gemini, which sometimes has two flower heads. This variety has been associated with Hill Close Gardens since its introduction in 2000 by horticulturist Noreen Jardine. Noreen was one of the key figures who helped restore the historic gardens after realising that something of great historic value was buried beneath all this bramble and weed and worthy of preservation.
You’ll be able to wander around the garden and enjoy a bite to eat in the Lammas Room Cafe in the Visitor’s Centre. You’ll also be able to discover more about the snowdrop at the indoor table-top display. This is a good opportunity to admire this little flower close up – and in the warm. You can get to know the different varieties by the petal markings, their leaf shape, and with some – their fragrance. Plus you’ll be able to buy snowdrops, bulbs and other spring flowers to plant at home. Snowdrops should be planted in late April or May.
For details of opening times, directions and admission charges – and news of other special events, at Hill Close Victorian Leisure Gardens in Warwick, please visit their website: http://www.hillclosegardens.com/