With the gardens now open again until early April for Winter-Spring 2023 we are carefully monitoring the snowdrops. With the mild spell before Christmas they were encouraged to poke their heads above ground only to face an onslaught of freezing conditions the like we have not seen here for more than 10 years. Luckily, although small and delicate-looking they are as tough as they come having adapted to flower in the coldest months. Vast carpeted areas of these gorgeous galanthus nivalis are what many of our visitors have come to see first and foremost. They are well on their way and accompanied by masses of sunny stars of winter aconites.
The prolonged period of cold, vernalisation, is actually an important stimulus for many plants to activate flowering. We normally spot the first daffodil bloom by the end the month and this will be the start of the gradual succession of a whole mixture of narcissi flowering right into late-March. ‘Adrian’s Walk’ is a popular attraction at this time of year; a wood-chipped path that snakes around the near end of the lake. The hellebores are magnificent en masse but still have some way to go. The first of the Dutch iris are appearing and the Daphnes and Witch Hazel are starting to flower. Sarcococca have brushed off the recent freeze and have been flowering for weeks, dispersing their honey-scented perfume to all who walk close by.
To get out at this time of year, especially if you need to wrap up, is good for the heart and soul and an anticipation of good things to come. And if that fails to raise your spirits then there’s always a bowl of hot soup, coffee and cakes in the toasty-warm Potting Shed tearooms.