This is one of my favourite times of the year, because it is the time when the snowdrops signal the beginning of the end of winter. Somerset has a wealth of places to see these flowers. I have visited some of them, while some are still on my wish list, and probably many other locations that are yet to be discovered.
Snowdrops return a spark of life to the winter countryside. In doing so they mark the beginning of the end of cold weather. The tiny brave pearls emerge into a very cold world. Frost, snow and freezing weather do their worst but snowdrops keep going.
How do they spread across the countryside when it is too cold for pollinating insects? The answer for most is to spread as bulbs that divide underground. A few flies and bees do visit the flowers, before their stems collapse to the ground to sow their seeds just a few inches away.
So most snowdrops in Somerset have not spread naturally but were planted. Sometimes this was centuries ago and so they have spread out along valleys and field edges. Most were planted in churchyards where they were linked with death.
I do not want to believe in the myths associating them with death. Instead, I enjoy the life of these delicate little flowers.
There are lots of places to see snowdrops in Somerset. Some grow in down valleys, some in large estates, but to me some of the best places are in small village churchyards.
In Somerset the flowers start to appear mid to late January and keep going through February. So as there name suggests they sometimes push themselves up through snow.
If the snow does not kill them then frost has it turn.
Some of the first to appear are in the Donkey Field at Uphill.
Next up, the churchyard at Blackford in South Somerset puts on an amazing show.
Snowdrops can be found all around Somerset, the best places are often churchyards, village greens and country estates. For a more natural setting wooded valleys and the edges of woods and hedgerows are worth exploring.
- Mells Valley
- Nunney Combe
- Snowdrop Valley at Wheddon Cross
The Mells Valley is a great site for photographing Snowdrops. Due to the steep sides of the valley sunlight only reaches the woodland floor for a few hours in the middle of the day.
Probably the most famous location for Snowdrops in Somerset. I hope to make the trip over to Exmoor soon.The valley is a privately owned remote valley close to Wheddon Cross. From the end of January the valley is open to the public.
The county has some beautiful old churches. Many put on a snowdrop display each winter.
So many to choose from, including:
- St Michael, Blackford, South Somerset
- St Peter and St Paul, Charlton Horethorne
- St John the Baptist, North Cheriton
- St Mary, Yarlington
- All Saints, Nunney
- St Nicholas, Bratton Seymour
- St Nicholas, Henstridge
- St John, Milborne Port
- St Cuthbert, Wells
- St Leonard, Pitcombe
- St Aldhelm, Doulting
- St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip
- St Laurence, Priddy
- St Peter & St Paul, Shepton Mallet
- St Matthew, Wookey
- St Mary Magdalene, Keinton Mandeville
- St Peter, West Lydford
- and many more
February is Snowdrop Month at the Bishop’s Palace in the tiny city of Wells.
Carpets of snowdrops can be found all over the large grounds.
Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival
Not just the thousands of snowdrops planted across the town. There are also competitions, workshops, walks and open days.
The project is run entirely by volunteers, so you have to join in the fun!
Yeo Valley Organic Garden
The famous yogurt makers have their own organic garden in Blagdon.
Over the past few years they have planted thousands of snowdrops.
Combine your Bishop’s Palace ticket with a visit to Forde Abbey.
Lots of snowdrops along the drive and around the lawns.
East Lambrook Manor Gardens
Only just had my first visit. Well worth it. The small gardens have a lovely display of snowdrops.
This is probably the best place to see the full range of flowers, and the chance to buy one or two for own garden.
More of the best in Somerset
The following have escaped me, something that needs to be put right soon.
- Prior Park
- Dunster Castle
- Fyne Court
- The Newt
- Hestercombe Gardens
- Elworthy Cottage
Road Side Verges
The other places to see snowdrops are right in front as you travel around the county.
These need some timing to see them at their best. They soon get covered in road spray. Not a good look on a white flower. Alternatively, find some on quite roads such as those around Priddy in the Mendip Hills.
Just over the border
Of course, there are plenty of snowdrops to see outside of Somerset. Some of my favourite places include:
- St Raphaels Chapel, Huccaby, Devon
- Holy Trinity Church – Shaftesbury, Dorset – https://shaftesburysnowdrops.org/