The gatehouse at Lanhydrock, Cornwall

Gardens to visit in February

Keith Wiley chooses the gardens to visit that will be looking beautiful in February

Anglesey Abbey and Painswick Rococo Garden for snowdrops

February is when those seasonal stalwarts, the galanthophiles, emerge to walk around the gardens of other equally passionate devotees pouring over the minutiae of snowdrops. You’ll find many events across the UK, but two snowdrop-filled gardens that are always worth a visit at this time of year are Anglesey Abbey and Painswick Rococo Garden. The gardens at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge boast more than 300 different species and cultivars of snowdrop, including some cultivars that are specific to Anglesey Abbey. You can tour the gardens at any time but to get a glimpse of these rare snowdrops you need to book yourself on one of the guided garden tours that take place three times a day in the first two and last weeks of February. The tours are included in the normal garden admission, but you do need to book in advance. See website for details. Quy Road, Lode, Cambridgeshire CB25 9EJ. Tel 01223 810080,

Galanthus ‘Erway’
© Jason Ingram

On the other side of the country, Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire, is the UK’s country’s only surviving, complete Rococo garden. Designed in the 1740s as a pleasure garden for the owner of Painswick House, the gardens are home each February to around five million snowdrops that turn the steep banks and woodland glades pure white. There is plenty to excite galanthophiles here with less-common cultivars, such as the double form Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus ‘Flore Pleno’, but the garden is famed for the cultivar Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’, named after a snowdrop grower called James Atkins who lived on the estate in the 1800s. The garden also boasts many Cyclamen coum and a number of different hellebores. Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick, Gloucestershire GL6 6TH. Tel 01452 813204,

Alpine Garden Society

For plantaholics of a more generalist persuasion, the Alpine Garden Society show season starts this month (check the AGS website below for exact dates and times). Despite its name, the society is not restricted to alpines and also includes woodlanders and bulbs, many of which are rarely seen. Unfailingly inspiring. If you prefer to view your plants outdoors, then one tree that is generally in full flower throughout the month, whatever the weather, is the witch hazel. National Collection holder, Chris Lane is holding an open day on 16 February (10am-2pm) at his Witch Hazel Nurseries near Sittingbourne in Kent.  The Granary, Callaways Lane, Newington, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 7LU. Tel 01795 843098,



More dependent on milder weather, but usually reliable in the mild South West, are the spring flowers of many of the great Cornish gardens. Towards the end of the month is usually the time to see the wonderful displays of Asiatic magnolias with their huge flowers on forest-sized trees. There are many gardens in the very mildest parts of the South West where these trees are the star attraction but one of the best is the National Trust garden, Lanhydrock. Lanhydrock, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 4AB. Tel 01208 265950,