The five Norfolk gardens you must visit to see the first snowdrops of the year.
- Credit: IAN BURT
When the first snowdrops appear you start to feel spring may be just around the corner.
So what better way to welcome the change in seasons than by visiting one of many gardens that will be open over the coming months which has massed displays of the delicate white flowers.
1) Walsingham Abbey's snowdrop walks open on January 31 and provide an unrivalled display. Visitors can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere surrounding the Priory ruins, in wildflower meadows, and 18 acres of woodland.
At Walsingham most of snowdrops are 'common' galanthus nivalis but there are clumps of the common double, galanthus nivalis 'flore pleno'.
Winter opening is grounds only, Monday to Friday 11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm. Admission £4.
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2) Snowdrop Walks at Lexham Hall, near Litcham start on Sunday February 8 in aid of two rural churches, St Andrews, East Lexham and All Saints, Litcham.
On Sunday February 15 they are open in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
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Snowdrops and aconites carpet the woodland garden and surrounding woods including the Groom's Wood adjacent to St Andrew's Church and the American Gardens on the far side of the lake.
The garden has been planted to provide winter interest with early flowering, scented shrubs and bulbs. The Woodland Garden contains numerous fine examples of Giant Redwood over 130 feet high, Dawn Redwood, Coastal Redwood, Handkerchief Tree, Katsura Tree and mature Magnolias. There is also a collection of Rhododendrons, many dating back over 50 years, a Tulip Tree, a Bladdernut and a superb collection of Camellias.
Open 11am - 4pm. Adults £5 children free. Dogs on leads. Homemade refreshments. Plants for sale.
3) Opening in aid of the National Gardens Scheme is Bagthorpe Hall, near Bircham, on Sunday, February 22, 11am to 4pm with its snowdrops carpeting a woodland walk.
Since its foundation, the National Gardens Scheme has donated over £42.5 million to nominated beneficiaries - among them Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Hospice UK.
4) Also for the scheme Chestnut Farm at West Beckham, near Holt, opens on Thursday, February 26 and Sunday, March 1 (11am to 4pm).
The mature three-acre garden boasts 90 varieties of snowdrops with crocus, hellebores and daphnes planted in natural surroundings. There is always something new to see. Visitors also welcome by arrangement.
5) And at Horstead House millions of beautiful snowdrops carpet the woodland setting with winter flowering shrubs. A stunning feature are the dogwoods growing on a small island in the river Bure, which flows through the garden.
It opens Saturday, February 21, 11am to 4pm.
• The Yellow Book for 2015, the essential guide to the thousands of gardens that open for the NGS, is now available to pre-order. Go to www.ngs.org.uk.