Spring flowers in the South West
Blessed with a mild (albeit damp) climate and an abundance of fine gardens, parkland and estates, our places in the South West are some of the first and finest to see spring flowers. From early-blooming magnolia to carpets of dainty white snowdrops, here's our guide for what to see, and when and where to see it.
Newark Park is open for visitors to enjoy the impressive annual show of snowdrops for one week this February, when snowdrops and other flowers including aconites literally carpet the woodland glade. The Kingston Lacy estate is another must for fans of this pretty flower - with 10,000 bulbs coming into bloom each year, and the Sherborne Park Estate and Godolphin have their fair share, too.
If you visit The Courts Garden between the end of March and May, you'll be rewarded with the cheerful sight of colourful tulips. Take a self-led trail to discover more about the magnificent varieties grown in the garden. Montacute House has a spectacular display of tulips too, as does Dyrham Park.
Take a tour with the knowledgeable gardeners at Greenway to see spring colour in the woodland garden and a wonderful collection of camellias. Saltram, Lanhydrock and Trengwainton are also great place to see these beautiful flowers.
The benefit of a mild Cornish climate is evident in the spring garden at Lanhydrock. Join the volunteer garden guides to marvel at magnolia, camellia and rhododendron. Other places where spring comes early include Glendurgan and others gardens in Cornwall. In Wiltshire, the rhododendrons at Stourhead are not to be missed.
The National Garden Scheme (NGS) open days at Lacock Abbey in February are the perfect chance to admire the early spring flowers including snowdrops, winter aconites and, fingers crossed, a carpet of purple crocuses. Other places where you might find crocuses include Trengwainton, Killerton and Westbury Court Garden.
There's always a dazzling display of daffodils in the beautiful gardens of Glendurgan and the surrouding sheltered valleys. The annual daffodil walk in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care is a great way to appreciate them. Other top spots for these golden glories include Lanhydrock, Kingston Lacy and Cotehele.
Wonderful wood anemones
Wood anemone is one of the earliest spring flowers to appear in the woods, taking advantage of the good light conditions before the trees come in to leaf. Look out for its star-like white flowers, often flushed with pink or purple, in ancient woodland such as Leigh Woods, and the Holnicote Estate on Exmoor and the fairly recently established woodland at Saltram.
Primroses in their prime
There's something very charming about a display of primroses, and in March at Godolphin the whole garden is packed full of English varieties flowering in carpets of yellow. Other primrose hotspots include Morthoe on the North Devon coast, and Cubert Common near Crantock in Cornwall.
A bluebell bonanza
Throughout spring, Winford Wood on the Arlington estate comes alive with the beautiful sight and heavenly scent of bluebells. You might chance upon them in most woodland, but favourite spots include the bluebell wood at Godolphin, Lanhydrock, Leigh Woods, Brean Down and Kingston Lacy.
As you can see, there's plenty to put a spring in your step whether you're a flower fanatic or just enjoy spotting the signs of a new season.