White magic: Britain's best snowdrop gardens

Snowdrops are patient creatures, as Mark and Clare Oglesby discovered when, a few years ago, they became the new owners of Goldsborough Hall, near Knaresborough in Yorkshire. The woodlands behind the house were choked with brambles, but when they began to clear them away, snowdrops and aconites appeared in grateful carpets under the trees. Now that they've come to the end of the initial scrub-bashing, they are opening the garden next Sunday for its first-ever snowdrop spectacular.

Once before, long ago in the late 1920s, the gardens opened for the National Gardens Scheme. The Oglesbys have a picture of the occasion: ladies in cloche hats, gentleman in voluminous caps and trilbies crowd the lawn in front of the fine Jacobean house. Around the house are the magnificent trees that are still, on their own, a good reason for visiting the place.

Just behind the house, there's a vast horse chestnut (the biggest I've ever seen) with great swirls of aconites and snowdrops under its drooping branches. Below the front of the house is an equally vast beech, splayed twiggily against the sky. Alongside is the great soaring bulk of a wellingtonia, planted, as so many of them were, in the 1860s. On the lawn, set just in front of the park railing, is a strange little group of flat-topped Japanese cherries – possibly 'Shirotae' – given by the emperor of Japan as a wedding present to Princess Mary (aunt of our queen) who lived in the house in the Twenties.

By the time that the Oglesbys came on the scene, the beautiful brick house had drifted into a decaying twilight and nobody remembered the snowdrops in the woods. While still in his late thirties, Mark Oglesby had sold his IT business and was ready for another challenge. Goldsborough Hall came on the market, destined, everyone thought, to be swallowed up by a developer.

But it wasn't. After negotiations that lasted for more than two years, Mark Oglesby bought the place – a rather complicated 40th birthday present – and is now working on ways to give the house "a new reason to exist" as he puts it. They've made a swanky series of bedrooms on the top floor and, as well as living with their two daughters at Goldsborough, they run it as an upmarket place to stay or to hold a wedding.

Clare Oglesby grew up with parents who were always bottom up in herbaceous borders. They've helped her replant the two long flower borders that run between beech hedges towards a fine lime walk beyond. And had she found any unusual snowdrops, I wondered, in the clumps now spread out so liberally under the trees? "Well, I'm rather hoping some snowdrop expert might find one for me," she replies. "Each time we clear a new area and let light into the place, more snowdrops come up." So, if you are a snowdrop detective make your way to Goldsborough Hall, Church Street, Goldsborough, nr Knaresborough, North Yorkshire HG5 8NR. The gardens are open 20 February (10am-4pm), admission £5. For more information call 01423 867321 or visit goldsboroughhall.com.

Snowdrop gardens to visit this month

Buckinghamshire

Higher Denham Gardens, Higher Denham, UB9 5EA

A small group of gardens in the Misbourne Valley show off their snowdrops (and compost). Open tomorrow (2-4.30pm). Admission £3. 07740 177038.

Quainton Gardens, Quainton HP22 4AY

Four gardens with good views over the vale of Aylesbury. Open 27 Feb (12-4pm). Admission £3. 01296 655243.

Cambridgeshire

Chippenham Park, Chippenham, nr Newmarket CB7 5PT

Fine displays of snowdrops by lake and canals in 350-acre park. Open Sat & Sun in Feb (11am-4pm). Admission £4. 01638 720221; chippenhamparkgardens.info.

Cumbria

Summerdale House, Nook, nr Lupton LA6 1PE

Snowdrops in part-walled country garden. Open 27 Feb (11am-5pm). Admission £3.50. 015395 67210.

Devon

Sherwood, Newton St Cyres, Exeter EX5 5BT

Steep wooded valley with snowdrops under extensive plantings of magnolias and camellias. Open Sundays in Feb (2-5pm). Admission £4. 01392 851216.

Gloucestershire

Colesbourne Park, Colesbourne

At least 250 varieties in a beautiful setting. Open every weekend this month (1-4.30pm). Admission £6. 01242 870264; colesbournegardens.org.uk.

Trench Hill, Sheepscombe GL6 6TZ

Thousands of snowdrops in a woodland walk. Open tomorrow and 20 Feb (11am-5pm). Admission £3. 01452 814306.

Hampshire

Manor House, Church Lane, Exton SO32 3NU

Walled garden with woodland walk and spring bulbs. Open tomorrow (12-3pm). Admission £3.50. 07977 223368.

Kent

Goodnestone Park, Wingham CT3 1PL

For a Hardy Plant Society snowdrop and hellebore extravaganza. Open 20 Feb (11am-4pm). 01843 256515; goodnestoneparkgardens.co.uk.

Lincolnshire

Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham NG33 5AP

Talks every day at 12.30pm and 2.30pm from snowdrop expert, Jackie Murray. Open from today to 20 Feb (11am-4pm). Admission £5.50. 01476 530063; eastonwalledgardens.co.uk.

London

Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HS

Masses of different varieties on a snowdrop trail winding through winter-flowering shrubs. Open today and tomorrow (10am-4pm). Admission £8. 020-7352 5646; chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk.

Northamptonshire

Deene Park, Corby NN17 3EW

Snowdrops and hellebores in a lakeside setting. Open tomorrow and 20 Feb (11am-4pm). Admission £4. 01780 450278; deenepark.com.

Shropshire

Winsley Hall, Westbury, Shrewsbury

Open 19 & 20 Feb for snowdrop walks (10.30am-12.30pm and 2-4pm). Admission £3 in aid of Lingen Davies Cancer Centre Appeal. 01743 492396.

Warwickshire

Hill Close Gardens, Bread & Meat Close, Warwick CV34 6HF

16 individual hedged gardens with snowdrop display and plants for sale. Open 19 & 20 Feb (11am-4.30pm). Admission £3. 01926 493339; hillclosegardens.com.

Wiltshire

Great Chalfield Manor, Melksham SN12 8NH

Snowdrops and aconites in a fine Arts & Crafts garden. Open tomorrow (2-4pm). Admission £3.50. 01225 782239.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness