Famed for being the first flowers of the year, snowdrops are treasured as nature’s first sign that winter has ended and as a symbol of spring cheer.
One of the UK’s most popular snowdrop walks can be enjoyed close to home, at Rode Hall & Gardens near Congleton.
Rode Hall has been the family home of the Wilbraham family since 1669. A fine Georgian country house with magnificent landscaped gardens, it was first opened to the public in 2002.
Throughout February each year, a beautiful end-of-winter walk for all the family can be enjoyed in Rode’s wonderfully diverse landscape which features more than 70 varieties of snowdrops.
Walk along paths amidst carpets of white flowers on an enchanting mile-long route (with options for longer or shorter walks).
Take in the wild beauty of cascading snowdrops in the Old Wood and Wild Garden, the scenic path down to the Lake and drifts of snowdrops in the borders of the formal Nesfield garden in front of the hall.
Highlights are also the two acre Walled Kitchen Garden and an unmissable vista down the Colonel’s Walk where some of the rarest varieties can be viewed.
A labour of love, the snowdrops have multiplied over 6 generations of the Wilbraham family; they were first planted by Sibella Wilbraham in 1833 who came from a family of gifted gardeners.
This passion and care continues to the present day having been further developed by Anne Baker Wilbraham over the last 30 years.
Visitors can also buy Rode Hall snowdrops (including limited amounts of many of the more unusual varieties) to plant at home.
Proceeds from the sale of snowdrops will be donated to the NGS and other charities.
- Rode Hall’s Courtyard Kitchen – everything possible is grown in the Kitchen Garden and handmade at the hall or sourced from the Rode Hall Farmers’ Market. This includes soups, sausage baps, cakes, cream teas, biscuits and ice cream. There is also be a new ‘Snowdrops Menu’ featuring a special winter set lunch.
- Rode Hall Shop – selling Rode’s new range of jams, pickles and cordials made with produce from its organic Kitchen Garden. Also on sale are snowdrops, spring plants and dried flowers.
- Rode Hall Farmers’ Market – on Saturday 1st February and Saturday 7th March (9am-1.30pm). Over 70 top producers offer the finest artisan produce.
- All Saints Church – the church will be decorated with snowdrops and other spring flowers and serving light refreshments.
- Art exhibition by local art groups – from 4th February to 1st March, in the barns.
Families – will love exploring and playing in the different enchanting landscapes.
Hunt for willow animal sculptures dotted along the walk and complete the quiz to win a prize at the end.
Children’s imaginations can also be sparked by the 200 year old grotto hidden in the Wild Garden or the Waterfall.
Look for heron and carp in the stews and the lake.
Gardeners – shouldn’t miss the opportunity to snap up some snowdrops to plant at home (including a limited number of rare varieties).
Rare snowdrops to view on the walk include the Yellow Cheshire Snowdrop (Lady Elphinstone), the giant Comet, the Viridapicis with green marks on the outer petals rather than the inside and Merlin with all green inner segment.
There is also the opportunity to view the snowdrops through strategically placed mirrors under some of the plants.
Daphnes, Cyclamen and Hellebores are also in bloom.
Romantics – can spend time together and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Plan a trip for Valentine’s Day.
Foodies – should take advantage of the delicious produce in the Courtyard Kitchen and shop and time a visit for the Farmers’ Markets on 1st February and 7th March.
From Saturday 1st February to Sunday 1st March, 11am-4pm (closed Mondays)
Rode Hall & Gardens, Cheshire, ST7 3QP
Prices: £5 adults / £2 children / under 5s free
For more information, call 01270 873 237 or email [email protected].