Plan a late winter visit for your group and enjoy London's finest snowdrop display.
As I write this, the first signs of autumn are appearing around me in the Gardens and, from the calls I’ve been getting in the office, it’s clear that group travel organisers are now thinking about their trips and activities for next year.
It’s particularly pleasing to have had enquiries about our new Christmas at Kew event (see Paul’s blog post from a few weeks ago) and about winter day trips. Because winter at Kew Gardens can be lovely, and the title of this post should give you a clue as to why!
A carpet of snowdrops
To begin with, we have plants here from all over the world, so something will always be blooming year-round in the glasshouses. But one of the pleasures of winters here is waiting to see how early one can spot the first signs of spring outdoors in the Gardens themselves.
Signs of spring appear again
There’s something particularly exciting about seeing flowers like snowdrops as they start to appear, bravely blooming whatever the weather.
So if you’re a member of a gardening club or a galanthophile club, why not make a late winter visit to Kew Gardens with your group part of your annual calendar, and enjoy these graceful harbingers of spring?
Galanthus elwesii in the Rock Garden
Giant snowdrops of Turkey
A favourite place for me to check is a spot in the Rock Garden. Under an elegant Japanese acer near the Davies Alpine House there’s a big clump of Galanthus elwesii, the giant snowdrop, native to the Taurus mountains in Turkey. It’s one of the earliest-flowering species, and this particular clump is often in bloom by late December. It always cheers me up no end, seeing these delicate beauties appear during the shortest and darkest days of the year, even flowering bravely through a blanket of snow.
Carpets of pure white
Then, from late January through most of February, the real spectacle starts to appear. Sweeping snow-white drifts of the common snowdrop, G. nivalis, carpet the ground near Queen Charlotte’s Cottage and the slopes of the Mound near the Palm House. It’s one of the best snowdrop displays in the London area and a real delight for eyes tired of seeing dead leaves and wintry greys everywhere.
Snowdrops and winter aconites blooming by Victoria Gate
Other winter beauties
At much the same time of year you can expect to see the perky golden flowers of the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, appearing near Victoria Gate and peeping through the grass along Holly Walk. On the slopes on the Mediterranean Garden the witch hazels (Hamamelis species and cultivars) also come into bloom in January, with threadlike flowers spreading a delicious lemony scent in the cold air.
Colourful witch hazel in flower beside King William's Temple in the Mediterranean Garden
As well as several dozen snowdrop species, the Rock Garden is also home to beautiful winter-flowering cyclamen, and the nearby Davies Alpine House shows displays of delicate alpines from all over the world.
So don’t forget that garden clubs (and keen gardeners everywhere) can find so much to see year-round at Kew Gardens, where there will always be jewel-like colours and sweet scents, even in the depths of winter.
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