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Snowdrops in Engand's greatest snowdrop garden


Image: Colesbourne Park

Would you care to be a galanthophile? Once you have seen snowdrops (really seen them in all their lovely, various and shy varieties) and they have gently nodded their heads in your own garden in January, sheltering under the bare trees, you can't help but become one.

Colesbourne Park, which has 250 varieties and is set in the Churn valley in the heart of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, is a good place to view them. In the 1890s, Henry John Elwes began Colesbourne's collection, after finding one of the principal snowdrop species, Galanthus elwesii.

His descendants keep the park alive with snowdrops, which have also paid for repairing the church bells.

Stephen Lacey reports that the snowdrops at Colesbourne 'include elegant double-flowered forms (Lady Beatrix Stanley and Hippolyta are favourites of mine), varieties with yellow markings (Grimshaw, the gardener, thinks Primrose Warburg and the double-flowered Lady Elphinstone are the best), and ones like Green Tear with lime-green shading on the flowers, which are usually the most expensive to buy, often pushing into three figures'.

Never mind three figures. I'm going to go down to the island to see the lovely snowdrops just now appearing.

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