Snowdrops. A ray of winter sunshine
Here in the garden at Polesden Lacey you'll find beautiful snowdrops all across the garden from January through to March. The two key areas to head for are the Winter Garden and Lime Walk.
As we get ready to leave behind another cold and frosty winter, there are fewer perfect signs of the spring regrowth and regeneration to come than the humble Snowdrop, one of the earliest flowering plants in the garden.
You have to admire the tenacity of their delicate, nodding heads as they force their way above ground and seize their moment in the winter light, ready to delight and enchant anyone who seeks them out.
There are 23 species of Snowdrop (Galanthus sp.) but now over 3000 recognised cultivars, with that number growing each year. Described by Carl Linnaeus, ‘the father of modern taxonomy’, in 1753, Snowdrops are not native to the UK but were in fact introduced from mainland Europe in the early 16th century.
Where to find them
You'll discover snowdrops all across the garden for the first three months of the year particularly in the Winter Garden at the east end of the formal gardens and Lime Walk near the main Water Tower.
In the Winter Garden, several different varieties which were left over from an old Head Gardener’s private collection can found intermingling with Winter Aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) in the central bed beneath the Persian Ironwood trees and carpeting the ground in the outer borders too. You might have to crouch down to get a better look at their elegant, graceful flowers but they are certainly well worth a closer inspection.
A bigger display
The Snowdrop display along Lime Walk as you leave the property is a perfect photo opportunity as the thousands of snowdrops line your route. We added to this display in 2018 with an extra 4000 snowdrops (a mix of G. nivalis, G. woronowii and G. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’ – all ideal for naturalising in grass) which we planted in the space of an hour or so with help of dozens of willing staff and volunteers!
Traditionally snowdrops were used to treat headaches and as a painkiller. In modern medicine a compound in the bulb of the snowdrop has been used to develop a dementia treatment. A lectin compound contained in snowdrops is also known as an effective insecticide, which might explain why they never seem to be nibbled in the garden. Here at Polesden Lacey we just use them as the gorgeous ornamental bulbs that they are and let their pretty flowers speak for themselves.
Make sure you explore the whole garden to see how many different types you can spot.