Lets hope the rain stays away and we can get out to see Snowdrops blooming in a couple of weeks time. Snowdrops, also called Milk Flowers, Dingle-Dangles (yes really!) Candlemas Bells, February Fair Maids and White Ladies are not, as you may have thought, British natives. They originally came from Europe and South West Asia, but they have been here in the U.K. for a while, having been introduced sometime in the 16th Century.
A few facts about Snowdrops before we get on to where you can see displays of these iconic spring flowers. Although all parts are mildly toxic to humans and animals Snowdrops have a long history of medicinal use for headaches and as an antidote to some types of poisoning. More recently a Snowdrop extract called Galantamine is being used in drugs to slow down the progress of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Its worth remembering that they are toxic though, so don’t let children or pets eat or handle snowdrop flowers leaves or bulbs and for some people the bulbs can cause skin irritation, so wear gloves if you are handling them. However cold it is Snowdrops always seem to survive and this is because they have a few strategies to deal with extreme cold. They produce proteins within the plant that act as a sort of ‘antifreeze’ preventing the cells freezing and being damaged, they can also suspend development of flowers and growth and go into a dormant mode if the temperature suddenly drops and to protect their nectar, the flowers will only open to expose the nectaries when the temperature is more than 10 degrees C. Although this is a tough little plant that flowers in mountainous cold places and has spread all over the World, perhaps surprisingly Snowdrops are an endangered species in some parts of the World and because of this import and export is strictly controlled and licensed.
Locally you can see snowdrops this year at:
Thenford Arboretum near Middleton Cheney. Snowdrop Walks on Weds 5th and Saturday 15th February. from 1.00 – 4.00. £12 admission by ticket only. Tickets available through the Thenford website www.
Waterperry Gardens Wheatley Oxfordshire from Saturday 1st to 29th February Admission £8.50. See www.
Evenley Wood near Brackley from 1st February to 1st March always has a wonderful display of many different varieties of Snowdrops.with plants for sale and café facilities at the weekends, £6 entry for adults, or free to RHS members. For more details see www.
Hill Close Victorian Gardens Warwick. 1st February and 2nd February from 11.00 – 4.00 and 15th February for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) – Admission £4.50 Check their website for details at www.
Elm Close Gardens in Welford on Avon, near Stratford, is open for the NGS on 8th and 9th February from 11.00 – 3.00 admission £4.00. This is a small garden but full of interest and has hellebores and other spring plants on show as well as snowdrops. See www.
***NB All openings will be dependent on weather, so it’s always worth checking the opening is going ahead before you travel.