Walsingham gets set for snowdrops

The quintessentially English snowdrop never fails to lift the spirits, and a Norfolk estate is being hailed as one of the best places in the country to witness them at their most spectacular.

The quintessentially English snowdrop never fails to lift the spirits, and a Norfolk estate is being hailed as one of the best places in the country to witness them at their most spectacular.

The grounds of Walsingham Abbey feature in this month's Gardening Which? magazine in a series which promotes gardens to visit that offer the best seasonal highlights.

With a full four pages devoted to snowdrop gardens across the UK, editor Julia Boulton, who has visited many of the gardens featured, said: “Norfolk is home to some truly inspirational gardens, from grand country houses to tiny cottage gardens. Enthusiasts can feast their eyes on spectacular drifts of snowdrops with a day out to Walsingham Abbey.”

The 22 acres of snowdrops and aconites on the site of the Augustinian priory are believed to have been planted by the monks and, although they are mostly the common snowdrop, the feature explains that the lack of variety is made up for in the size of display - one of the largest in England. The flowers have just started to show themselves through the soil and estate managers predict that they will be in full bloom within the next couple of weeks.


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Jackie Seals, museum manager, said they were slightly ahead of themselves this year and they were planning to open the gates to visitors from the first weekend in February.

“Last year they were later because we didn't have the rainfall but when they did come out they lasted about six weeks,” she said.

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“They don't suffer in the weather even if it is very windy because they are very hardy but we don't let anyone in if it is too windy because of the trees and the health and safety aspects.”

She added that last year's visitor numbers topped 40,000 and around 4,000 of those were during the month of February just to see the snowdrops.

“We are very pleased to be in Gardening Which? but every year we feature in quite a few gardening magazines,” she said.

Rosemary Ward, one of the writers for Gardening Which? said snowdrops were loved by the British public because they were the first sign of life in the garden every year.

“They are also so resilient and whatever the weather chucks at them they will survive,” she said. “The flowers look like they have very slender and delicate stalks but even when it is windy they just sway to and fro. They actually benefit from cold weather because they will flower for longer.

“One of the great things about them is that they will naturalise and you can get some really good displays after a while even if you only planted a few clumps because they spread so easily. One tip for anyone thinking of planting them is to buy them while they still have some growth on them, in the green, and they are more likely to reshoot better.

“Every garden should have snowdrops - they never let you down, they are modest but very cheering.”

t Entry to the snowdrop walks at Walsingham costs £3 for adults and £2 concessions. Under-sixes go free. Dogs on leads are also welcome. It is planned that gates will be open to visitors from the first weekend in February.

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