Last Friday, I visited Bennington Lordship in Hertfordshire. My original plan had been the RHS London Plant and Potato Fair, but on the day could not face the journey and the inevitable crush. The forecast for heavy rain had changed to dry and although a weak and watery sun barely broke through the low clouds all day, searching for snowdrops proved to be the best decision.
Bennington is a picturesque small village in Hertfordshire 30 miles outside of London. Bennington Lordship the name given to the manor house, Lordship a reference to the village origins in Saxon times. The estate is a seven acre garden, which opens occasionally and during Snowdrop time they are open daily from 12 – 4 until March 1st. Entry £5.00. Guided walks Monday and Wednesday for £1.00. A tea shop serving soup and hot drinks and a good pub in the village.
I do not really understand the fuss about Snowdrops and much prefer Crocus as an early spring flower. Except that on a cloudy day they look like colourful Candle Snuff. As I write, there is a Galanthus plicatus ‘Golden Fleece’ snowdrop for sale on ebay due to finish at 23 Feb, 2015 21:09:26 GMT, currently the bid stands at £1,330 for one bulb. Its described as the first fully pterugiform yellow snowdrop which took Joe Sharman 10 years to create. It is lovely but wow that is a lot of money, I would rather a whole drift of Galanthus nivalis.
There are over 200 varieties of Snowdrop in the garden and I was very fortunate whilst there to find the Head Gardener Richard Webb, I confessed I did not get the passion folk have for snowdrops and had visited his garden to try and understand more. Richard was very knowledgable and generous with his time, I left with a kindling interest and I had fallen for Blewberry Tart, a double that opens head up, a little like a crocus!
The charming gardens include herbaceous borders, a walled Kitchen Garden, an Orchard and huge pond. Richard recommended a late May/June visit in particular to see the herbaceous borders. I have included Benington Lordships’s link to their snowdrop page and recommend a visit, even if like me you don’t quite get what its all about!
39 thoughts on “Bennington Lordship Garden and Snowdrops”
I. So glad you opted to visit Bennington Lordship. These are darling!
Me too Janet, that was my first visit to a garden I had not heard of before but shall go again.
Love your photos showing wide swaths of snowdrops…So beautiful.
Thanks Charlie, the light was not ideal last Friday, but the garden was so charming and uplifting to visit.
Lovely photos Julie. The large drifts of bulbs in bloom is really spectacular. I’m intrigued by the serious collectors of snowdrops.
I am intrigued by these collectors too Susie, the head gardener has a large collection but he told me that there is a lot of trading plants rather than money, which made it all more relatable.
I have to admit to being like you preferring drifts of ‘ordinary’ snowdrops over one or two specials however pretty they might be. But of course I am speaking as someone whose garden isn’t suitable for snowdrops at all and I would like some in a pot to bring into the house to admire.
Yes a few in a pot would be lovely, the head gardener very kindly gave me a ‘Blewberry Tart’ snowdrop, his enthusiasm did open my eyes. He also told me that Beetles and Ants are the more likely pollinators rather than early Bees and I think thats one of the reasons I like Crocus more, being able to see the interaction with pollinators.
Lovely photos of the drifts of snowdrops. I am similar in that, at the moment, I would rather have a lot of ‘nivalis’ rather than a couple of expensive varieties. However, this year, I have been dipping my toes into the water, and have bought a few different ones – nothing expensive though. I also had my first visit to a snowdrop garden and have to admit there are some really pretty ones. I am falling for the ones with the yellow ovaries.. . . . and so it begins!
I have read that a yellow ovary is quite rare, where do you keep your new snowdrops? I would worry about weather, cats, dogs, children with balls, birds, and that maybe an Alpine house would be needed.
So far they are both still sitting in their pots as it is so useful when taking their photographs – I can move them into the sun as required. I haven’t bought any that I would worry excessively about so they are just going in the garden. The slightly more expensive one is going in a pond pot buried in the garden so I don’t dig it up by mistake or put the fork through it.
I have never been to this garden it sounds wonderful. I love snowdrops en masse too but it is fun to have some specials. Blewberry Tart is a sweet one. I love the early species crocuses too but they are a disappointment if the sun doesn’ t shine and make them open up.
Wow, I just checked on that snowdrop on eBay and it has 54 bidders now and is still going up!
I have tried to see what other rare snowdrops go for and think this may be a new record, the man who grew it must be delighted.
I hadn’t heard of this garden before – thank-you for the tour and beautiful photos. I like snowdrops but I couldn’t spend time and money (crazy money) collecting them. I can’t easily bend down low enough to see them close up so one type of snowdrop is as good as another to me. Large swathes of them are very attractive though.
I can’t ever imagine buying a plant this expensive but I do not think I would put it in the ground, although not sure where folk do keep such pricey plants. Sorry to read you can’t bend easily Clare, have you found ways to garden that need less bending?
I get round it somehow (I have rheumatoid arthritis) I can only spend short periods doing tasks and then have to go on to something else. Makes for disjointed gardening! Some days are much better than others so I take advantage of the good days.
I am sorry to hear that Clare, I imagine your wildlife garden is a great joy for those times when you need to sit and watch rather than dig. Hope you have a good week.
It looks very pretty there, with large drifts of white snowdrops everywhere. I can understand how it is easy to be swept along by the wave of snowdrop mania that seems to have developed over recent years… just like the tulip fever of the 17th century! But that IS an awful lot of money. Is there a guarantee if it doesn’t flower?!
Not sure about guarantees! There is a film due for release this year called ‘Tulip Fever’, about a couple at the time in history who invest in the Tulip market. http://www.deborahmoggach.com/index.php/tulip-fever/
Even gardening can be a little dark!
Those drifts of snowdrops are nothing short of magnificent. There’s nothing like an English garden….
The snowdrop isn’t one of our natives, although its been here since the sixteenth century and comes from mainland Europe. But it does look very English and at home here. Our gardens would be poorer without them at this time of year.
How much ???!!!! Madness.
Its still at the same price with 2 hours to go – I have just looked!
I do love snowdrops en masse. There’s no more magnificent a sight – apart, maybe, from golden drifts of daffodils. I think their appeal is largely due to them being the first flowers of the new year. But, despite their beauty, I fail to succumb to the fascination shown by many Galanthophiles. And £1330? Complete madness!!
It went for £1390 in the end. I am with you, drifts of daffodils are a heavenly sight!
Good grief! Silly money!
Great photos … I find capturing snowdrops en masse, quite tricky, and you’ve really succeeded. Since you’re on the way with Blewberry Tart, might I suggest you consider G. Atkinsii, Mrs. Macnamara, John Long and Magnet. All pretty cheap, (ie less than a tenner) and all create a huge impact quite quickly, and several much earlier in the year than most G. nivalis. But get started soon…although all these bulk up quickly, it’ll be a good few years to achieve a real WOW factor. You won’t regret it, every time we hit the grey days of early January…
Thank you for your recommendations Julian, I shall have a look at those. And you did succeed, your photos were superb.
Much as I love crocus, I can understand how people get into snowdrops. I feel you can’t have too many snowdrops and I certainly don’t have enough at the moment. My slight problem is that I hate planting bulbs but I will just have to grit my teeth this autumn. Generally speaking, I seem to be very attracted to white flowers. I’ve never seen expanses of snowdrops like that for real. Amelia
I know just what you mean about planting bulbs, its one of those things that feel like a chore, even though I am always very glad when I’ve been disciplined and got on with it!
This was a great change of plan. I love the write up and more importantly it is a garden that I have never heard about. I am going to head over there to see the borders in May/ June as recommended by the head gardener.
Did you get yourself any plants?
With the kindness of a fellow gardener, he listened to me struggling to understand the fuss and said he would like to give me one of his ‘Blewberry Tart’ potted snowdrops. That was the one I had also admired. He also said that most of the snowdrops he had in his collection meant something, especially the ones which were gifts or swaps from fellow gardeners or enthusiasts. Glad you are visiting, the village and church are very pretty too.
How lucky to have Blewberry Tart to start you off!
Lovely, lovely, lovely! A visual balm to my winter-weary spirit. Thank you. I imagine myself walking on that path between banks of snowdrops.
I have just looked up the temperatures and forecast for Vancouver, that looks lovely and then Toronto. Oh my! Cynthia, that is cold, the temperature seems to get a tiny bit better the week after, I hope that it carries on getting better and that you seen the worst of this winter.
I hope so too, Julie! Otherwise, I’ll have to move to Vancouver. Or England!!
Julie your photos are exquisite…that first one had me sighing….I have never seen a display of snowdrops like this. I grow them as they are one of the first flowers to blooms. But I also love large displays of small early spring bloomers like crocus, if the voles would leave mine alone.
Voles! So far they have left my spring blooms alone but I have a pheasant with 3 wives taking a shine to my primroses. I really like Crocus too, they are just coming into their own over here. One upside of voles is that they eat slugs!