Scottish Snowdrop Festival
The annual Scottish Snowdrop Festival takes place in February and March all across Scotland and is a delightful reminder that spring is finally on its way. Many of the gardens and woodlands taking part are members of Discover Scottish Gardens, an organisation that aims to put Scottish gardens, nurseries and related businesses on the tourist map and to showcase the nation’s outstanding horticulture and plant diversity. Participating gardens provide fabulous spectacles of white carpets and collections of unusual, rare and specialist snowdrop species and offer a variety of events and activities surrounding this popular flower.
With over 50 different venues taking part, and keen to show off their collections and displays of this plucky little perennial you're sure to experience brilliant moments full of winter wonder and beauty. Entry is usually free or by a small donation. Here are a selection of our favourites, what to look out for when you get there and some great places to stay.
Abriachan Garden Nursery, just a few miles from Bearnock Lodge offers stunning views from its location high over Loch Ness. There are over four acres of exciting plantings here with winding paths through native woodlands, perfect for a crisp winter walk. Bearnock itself has impressive formal gardens on two sides as well as a walled garden with a fire pit. Perfect for summer barbecues.
Set in peaceful parkland, Brodie Castle is a fine 16th-century tower house where the extensive gardens feature sheltered woodland walks. Discover hidden swathes of snowdrops, and stroll by the pond where you can follow the nature trail and observe the varied wildlife from the specially constructed hides. Kids can also entertain themselves with the adventure playground. Willowvale is only a short drive along the coast and is a fabulous family house that will also appeal to golfers, it even has its own 70 m practice hole in the garden.
Dawyck Botanic Gardens is truly one of the world’s finest arboreta. Seasonal displays of abundant exotic and native plants provide a breath-taking backdrop of colour throughout the year but it’s most impressive during snowdrop season. Join an experienced guide for a walk and see blankets of snowdrops carpeting the banks of the Scrape Burn. Afterwards don’t forget to check out the award-winning visitor centre on site. It is easily visited from The Tower of Hallbar which commands amazing views over the tree tops and the surrounding countryside and even comes with its own private orchard.
Lawton House, near Arbroath is a 1755 Georgian mansion that features a woodland garden of beech trees carpeted with dazzling displays of snowdrops and crocuses. There is also a walled garden planted with fruit trees and vegetables where it is recorded that Winston Churchill courted his future wife, Clementine. The Angus Glens that are accessed from this area are a haven for those looking for somewhere secluded and peaceful. The luxury of Glen Cruick is only an hour and a half from Edinburgh but still sits in splendid isolation.
Craigie Knowes sits on the peaceful northern shores of the Solway Firth with fantastic sea views out to Rough Island. A short drive inland will take you to Brooklands and its mature woodland garden full of rhododendrons and alive with snowdrops in February and daffodils in spring. There is also a large old walled garden richly planted with a wide variety of perennials, including many unusual species, soft fruit and vegetables.
Cluny House Gardens are walking distance from Aberfeldy. The 6 acres of gardens have a subtle collection of snowdrops naturalising within a spectacular Himalayan woodland. Most have been growing over the last 50 plus years which has resulted in many variations. Because the gardens are at 200m, snowdrops here flower later and well into March. Nearly as beautiful as the snowdrop is the snowflake or Leucojum a native from Central Europe and a much rarer sight in Scotland. The local squirrels are fed every morning at nine, so come early for a good chance to spot them. Strathlyon Cottage is just the other side of Aberfeldy, the perfect central location for exploring all the varied outdoor attractions of Perthshire.