One of the delights of this time of year are the pure white gems of snowdrops and you can find lovely clusters of them in Hardwick's gardens. This season we've seen a few make a very early appearance but most will be coming through early in the new year.
Some experts believe snowdrops were first introduced to this country in the early sixteenth centruy, with their origins tracing back to Southern Russia, Turkey and Southern Europe.
Whilst the gardens at Hardwick have been redesigned many times over since Bess lived here it is quite possible that she would have been acquainted with this delicate and beautiful plant.
What's in a name
The snowdrops in the South Court were originally planted in the shapes of the names of the nieces of the 6th Duke, Blanche, Anne, Dorothy and Maud but sadly because they've now spread it's no longer possible to make these out.
Where to find snowdrops at Hardwick
Most of Hardwick's snowdrops are clustered in the east and west corners of the South Court. Under the bows of the yews and lime the snowdrops appear to almost glow. Following on from the flowering cyclamen and before the deep purple crocus, the display of snowdrops is a special time of year.