Now that the snowdrops are definitely showing in our garden, I thought that it was time to search online for other, more extensive, displays that we could visit. It seems as if this weekend (11-12th Feb) is the favourite time for it this year and there are at least four major openings in easy travelling distance: Little Ponton Hall (NGS – this weekend only), Easton (Lincs), Anglesey Abbey and Chippenham. Then Easton Lodge (Essex) opens for snowdrops for the next two Sundays. So which to choose?
We have visited them all at least once before, except for Little Ponton Hall, so it should have been an easy choice. However, the weather has been dreadful: foggy, cold and wet (even a little snow) and no self-respecting snowdrop is even open, so there would be no chance to contemplate different types. Plus Steve has been snuffling and sneezing since Friday and Little Ponton is the furthest away. In the end, we decided that Chippenham Park would be most fun in the circumstances and hence, in spite of drizzling rain, we headed there yesterday. Luckily, by the time we’d arrived it had mostly stopped raining and the car park was more or less empty. Hurray, we had the 330 acre park almost to ourselves!
There is a lot of water at Chippenham Park, even discounting the rain. That is because the garden was designed to celebrate the successful naval battle of the original owner, Admiral Edward Russell, against the French fleet at La Hogue and so it is a garden full of canals.
Away from the canals there are extensive wilderness and woodland areas which are completely carpeted with snowdrops.
The scale of the naturalised snowdrop display is stunning. If the sun had been out their white petals would have been spread wide creating a truly dazzling, possibly blinding, effect.
But even without the sun, the pure white drops look marvellous.
Of course to take the photos I got muddy knees, but Steve took a picture showing me trying to avoid it!
Along the edges of the canals the garden is planted with plenty of other lovely shrubs and trees, e.g. acers, daphne, hammelis, parrotia and cornus. It was here that I found a cornus mas already in flower.
However, the best of the spring planting is along the broad, main canal, along a path called Adrian’s Walk.
The borders along the walk are filled with treasures, including a great many delicious dark hellebores:
and a number distinctive snowdrops (although none seemed to be labelled):
This, for instance, might be ‘Wendy’s Gold’, but without seeing the full flower it is hard to tell.
And this might be ‘Jaquenetta’, (but I am just going by some of the online catalogues since I am no expert). I have to say that finding such pretty examples on the visit has raised my interest in the flower.
At the end of the main canal is a delightful gate leading to what looks to be a thriving set of hives.
Just imagine the activity around the snowdrops on a sunny day!