Last month I visited a garden with the best snowdrop collection I’ve ever seen – Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire.
Display of Galanthus nivalis
I’d heard people rave about it, from snowdrop lovers “galanthophiles” in particular. The collection at Colesbourne was started by Henry John Elwes (1846 – 1922), a traveller and naturalist who, in the course of an adventurous life, introduced many plants to cultivation. Among these was Galanthus elwesii, which he found in western Turkey in 1874.
After his death the collection lay more or less undisturbed for sixty years until his great grandson Henry Elwes and his wife Carolyn began to identify the plants and spread them out through regular bulb division. Carolyn has added many further species and cultivars which has made the Colesbourne display of snowdrops to be acknowledged as one of the finest in the country.
Display of Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’
The snowdrops are planted in masses through the arboretum and lakeside landscapes, as well as in smaller groups in the garden. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to compare so many different varieties and cultivars in just one garden. I saw many familiar favourites such as Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’, Galanthus ‘Wasp’, Galanthus nivalis ‘Tiny Tim’, Galanthus nivalis ‘Anglesey Abbey’ to name a few.
Galanthus ‘Esther Merton’
I discovered new snowdrops too, ones like Galanthus elwesii ‘Carolyn Elwes’, Galanthus ‘Colesbourne’, Galanthus ‘Esther Merton’ and Galanthus ‘Titania’.
The extraordinary blue lake
I couldn’t get over the extraordinary looking lake, a great feature of the garden. Its eye-catching blue colour is caused by minute colloidal clay particles reflecting only the blue light waves; it remains the same colour all year round, unless muddied by heavy rainfall. If there had been a beach surrounding it you could almost have mistaken it for the Mediterranean sea!
Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis)
Winter aconites and snowdrops
Snowdrops and cyclamen
I spotted this sweet hellebore amongst the snowdrops!
I liked how winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) and cyclamen were being naturalised in some areas and growing amongst the snowdrops. The sight of so many beautiful bulbs, the snowdrops stealing the show of course, made it a memorable day out. If you only get to visit one garden for snowdrops then make Colesbourne Park the one – check out their website for more information: 🙂