February Snowdrops at East Lambrook
February snowdrops have lifted our spirits during this Coronavirus pandemic! They offer the promise that spring is not too far away and that better times will soon be here.
I had hoped to visit the garden at East Lambrook Manor to see their February snowdrops in late 2018. But the so called ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap put paid to that.
I tried again in 2019 but was busy laying land drains in my new garden here in South Somerset.
In 2020 I tried yet again but felt nervous about the breaking news of the Covid-19 outbreak here in the UK.
So it was with some relief that I finally actually visited the garden a few days ago.
Visiting during Covid-19 lockdown
I am very fortunate in that I can stay local and yet see several fine gardens nearby.
However several of those gardens are in the hands of the National Trust and have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. Lytes Cary, Tintinhull and Montacute all have fine gardens but are closed to visitors at the moment.
The garden at East Lambrook Manor is just minutes away and I duly booked a slot to visit.
I had hoped for an hour and a half of sunshine which so far this year has been hard to find! As it turned out I was greeted by very cold rain showers and poor light for photography. Fortunately most of the snowdrops had bravely opened their flowers and I even spotted a few bees visiting them.
Some background on the garden
This garden is the well known garden made famous by Margery Fish.
It’s a cottage garden and was very influential in it’s time to revive that relaxed and informal style of gardening.
The garden remains little changed since Margery Fish created it from an old farmyard and is packed full of garden perennial plants.
These garden perennials of course look their best during spring, summer and autumn.
The February snowdrops at East Lambrook Garden make a compelling reason to visit in late winter! Indeed snowdrops are celebrated here throughout February!
Having passed through the hands several owners [guardians?] since the death of Margery Fish the current owners are Gail and Mike Werkmeister. They have owned the garden and attached nursery since 2008.
Mark Stainer has been head gardener at East Lambrook all his life and provides invaluable knowledge and continuity.
Further information about the garden including opening times, plant sales, refreshments, etc are available here.
This garden is of a cottage garden style. It is wrapped around the Manor House, malt house and other former farm buildings.
At the time of my visit snowdrops are to be found flowering throughout the garden.
These are supplemented by pot grown bulbs strategically placed in areas where less bulbs are growing in the ground.
This garden is a mecca for Galanthophiles to visit to see the February snowdrops!
The planting of the ditch that runs through the garden is delightful. This is a frequently photographed feature and appears in many publications. At the time of my visit it was clothed with snowdrops in flower.
Between the snowdrops are many emerging hardy perennials.
I noticed that other bulbs and early bloomers feature here too.
Complimenting the snowdrops are hybrid hellebores [read more about my hellebore collection here], early daffodils, crocus and winter aconites.
Pollarded willows, witch hazel and coloured stem dogwoods added structure to the sides of the ditch.
The Snowdrop Collection
I was told that approximately 150 varieties of snowdrops are to be found in the garden.
Many of these are available from the small on site plant centre. And a few can be purchased via mail order.
A list of available snowdrops is available on request here.
I was particularly impressed to see a beautifully presented and clearly labelled display of snowdrops in pots. These are plunged in coir to protect the roots from great temperature fluctuations.
I am told that many, but not all, varieties of snowdrop on display there are available in 9 cm pots.
During the current Covid-19 lockdown the on-site plant nursery is closed to visitors.
Fortunately most plants are displayed and on sale in the plant centre.
However Mike Werkmeister was keen to share with me his collection of snowdrops in the nursery. Consequently I was fortunate to be able to venture behind the scenes!
Mike outlined the history of the garden and nursery since the time of Margery Fish. I was fascinated to hear how this legacy of this great plants woman has been handed on and in a sense lives on.
However I was concerned to hear of the difficulties that independent nurseries face with the current restrictions. This is especially so for those growing a perishable and seasonal products.
We all hope that they will survive this pandemic and the plant collections that they care for will still be in tact at the end!
If you love snowdrops then you will be interested in my visit to see them in West Somerset at Elworthy Cottage in February 2019.
A few years earlier I visited a snowdrops festival at Chelsea Physic Garden in central London. Here’s my blog on which includes a list of many great places to see snowdrops in flower around the UK.
Take a look at my blog on a visit to the spectacular bulbs in the Dutch Keukenhof Gardens here.