Hobnobbin’, Hodsockin’, Snowdroppin’

IMG_4111More of the first two, though, as our visit to Hodsock Priory on Tuesday was rather earlier in the month than last year and the snowdrops were not yet at their peak, despite the glorious winter sunshine we were blessed with. Having driven through a mini-blizzard on our way there we couldn’t have asked for a better day, and being well wrapped up to keep warm in the bitter temperatures the resultant frozen ground was a boon as it meant no muddy paths. Although it was cold, there was only a sprinkling of lying snow and most of the ‘white stuff’ in yesterday’s wordless picture was snowdrops, not immediately obvious unless you zoomed in or looked at the tags!

The Buchanan family open their estate to the public for about month each year so visitors can enjoy the renowned annual snowdrop festival. Snowdrops have a long history here, IMG_3944with Lady Beatrix Stanley being  the grandmother of the current owner, Sir Andrew Buchanan. Both she and her daughter were talented gardeners with connections to E A Bowles, the renowned plant hunter, and were largely responsible for the instigation of the now internationally known massed snowdrops and winter borders, with bulbs being brought from Maidwell Hall, Sibbertoft Manor, St Anne’s Manor at Sutton Bonington and from the gardens of the late Primrose Warburg, names that snowdrop aficionados may recognise.

The woodlands, once part of Sherwood Forest, are full of these massed plantings in their natural habitat, definitely the best way to see snowdrops. If happy, they will naturalise and spread to their hearts’ content as they clearly have here, but just as in our own gardens they would still respond well to being lifted and split every few years. Digging up clumps on the edge of the wood and heeling in single bulbs next to the paths whilst still in the green is the Buchanan’s default job in the week after they close. There are a few smaller clumps of named varieties in the winter gardens, where there are also numerous winter flowering honeysuckles and witch hazels, hellebores, sarcococca, cyclamen, aconites, early prunus and the first narcissi, still a little early for all but the first two. It was good to see all of these winter beauties available in the little plant sales area too – and yes, I did succumb, to Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ and Daphne mezereum ‘Rubra’, but no snowdrops…

Hodsock.bloomsThe family is celebrating 250 years of being at Hodsock this year and we had been invited as part of a Media, Bloggers and Industry day in conjunction with this, a new experience for me. Sincere thanks go to Helen for organising the event and for the invitation. Not only IMG_4104did we have the pleasure of visiting the gardens again but I was able to meet up with Michelle of Veg Plotting and Alison of Blackberry Garden and her friends, as well as having a guided tour of the gardens from George Buchanan (Sir Andrew’s son) and his wife Katharine, a delightful and down-to-earth couple, who regaled the group with history and anecdotes throughout. George’s mother, Lady Belinda, still manages the garden and it was she who insisted the snowdrop garden was opened to the public, whilst Katharine was instrumental in creating a wedding venue, not surprisingly popular for ‘Snowdrop Weddings’.

IMG_4112Upwards of 18,000 visitors visit Hodsock each year to see the snowdrops so visiting during the week and early in the day might be the best way to avoid the crowds. The simple beauty of massed and naturalised plantings of snowdrops at their peak is certainly something not to be missed by gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

IMG_4108

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39 Responses to Hobnobbin’, Hodsockin’, Snowdroppin’

  1. How wonderful that you were able to make it there and had a lovely day….

  2. Christina says:

    Sounds like a lovely day out; very good choice of plants, I’m sure you’ll love them both.

  3. Cathy says:

    That sounds so lovely, walking round a winter garden with flowers in the sunshine. What is that amazing plant bottom right? I have never seen one before but the flowers look like enormous pink hazels catkins!

  4. Julie says:

    Sounds a lovely, good natured day out Cathy, with like minded folk and you had great weather, perfect!

  5. Pam says:

    I have enjoyed several visits to Hodsock Priory over the last few years and yes, the snowdrop walk is wonderful. This year, however, we’re off to Easton Walled Gardens for their snowdrop season. A much smaller garden than Hodsock and the snowdrops are just as lovely.

    • Cathy says:

      One of the other Hodsock visitors had been to Easton the day before and enjoyed it. I must check where it is – I know it’s in Lincs somewhere. We went to Felley Priory last year – that was also a smaller garden with lovely snowdrops

  6. Cathy says:

    Lovely to see the snowdrops second-hand and to read about your visit. I shivered a bit at the thought of being a snowdrop bride though!

  7. Kris P says:

    The last image of all those snowdrops surfacing in the garden brings home the reasons you love them so. We have nothing similar that I can think of.

  8. rickii says:

    I have a little patch of snowdrops, which I failed to fully appreciate until this year, when I brought a few stems into the house. Seeing them at eye level, one can truly see the graphic patterns of green on the pristine white flowers. I’m sure they are also impressive en masse.

  9. VP says:

    It was a fab day and it was lovely to meet you, though sadly there wasn’t enough time for a thoroughly good chat. That Lonicera is a good choice – I have one in my garden and its scent is wonderful at this time of the year.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Michelle – likewise re chatting 😉 I have L fragrantissima and have come to love it, which is why I wanted more of them. I also bought L standishii ‘Budapest’ last year but I don’t think it will flower this year. I look forward to fragrance of the three of them a year from now!

  10. Anna says:

    Oh I was wondering how you had fared Cathy. It sounds as if you had a fabulous day indeed. I’m now wondering if if galanthus ‘Robin Hood’ and galanthus ‘Little John’ originated in these parts. Now fancy coming home without a single snowdrop in your paws 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Interesting thought about LJ and RH – but dashed when I checked Freda Cox… 😉 I thought I was being very restrained – after all, I have got ‘a number’ of them on order. In fact there was only one named variety I didn’t have, and perhaps I now feel a slight twinge of regret for not having purchased it as it wasn’t expensive…. 😦

  11. Chloris says:

    What a lovely time you had. Just the thing for a cold winter’ s day. Thanks for telling us all about it.

  12. I want to go to the Hodsock Priory and meet those lovely looking people! AND meet a few lovely looking plants as well…I bet you were over the moon after a lot of winter…

  13. What a fun day! Hobnobbin’ indeed! I love winter gardens. They give such pleasure at an otherwise dreary time of year. Sounds, and looks, like a wonderful selection of winter beauties. You made good choices, Cathy. I must say I have noticed too that my Garrya elliptica seems to “tassel” every other year. Nice to know, it’s probably not down to something I’m doing to it!

    • Cathy says:

      I really appreciate gardens in winter these days – and the expectations of spring add to that pleasure. Interesting to hear about your garrya

  14. croftgarden says:

    It is a lovely garden especially in the sunshine.

  15. Helen Johnstone says:

    What a lovely day out and the sun shone – a real bonus

  16. Pauline says:

    You had a super day out, what a wonderful place to visit. I don’t know if I would have been so strong willed and come away without buying any snowdrops!

  17. A delightful way to spend the day, lucky you. Your souvenirs sound like a good choice however I am amazed you resisted some snowdrops. As for snowdrop brides, well all I can say is I hope they have their thermals on!

    • Cathy says:

      Lucky me indeed! I am sure someone will have cottoned on to the needs of winter brides and have developed a range of lacy thermals – if not, there is a business opportunity in their somewhere…;)

  18. bittster says:

    It’s so nice to be able to get out and about this time of year and have gardens to look at. What a nice display and I love all the history that comes out in your post. Your own “Lady Beatrix Stanley” is doing the legacy proud and I hope mine will someday do the same 🙂

  19. gardenfancyblog says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen so many snowdrops! It sounds like you had a wonderful day — thanks for sharing it with us. -Beth

    • Cathy says:

      You are welcome – and it’s definitely worth visiting a garden with naturalised snowdrops like this at least once. It’s a sight like no other 😉

  20. Pingback: People, Places and Projects: Remembering 2015 | Rambling in the Garden

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