Spring has come to the gardens of England and I am full of envy. The Dorothy Clive Garden, a twelve-acre charitable garden trust on the Shropshire/Staffordshire borders, has been killing me with its Instagram posts of snow drops and blooming witch hazel and now some of the iris are up. Meanwhile, here in New England, my yard is buried beneath an icy strata of snow.
Look at that! Snowdrops, iris, and cyclamen!
This hillside garden was created out of a disused gravel quarry by Colonel Harry Clive in 1938 for his wife, Dorothy who had Parkinson’s Disease, so that she could enjoy the woodland walks. After Dorothy died in 1942, he continued working on the gardens until he handed it over to The Willoughbridge Garden Trust in the late 1950s. The trust continues to extend and improve the garden, most recently with the addition of the Gravel Garden, added in 1990 to commemorate the garden’s 50th anniversary.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley in Surrey has also been putting on a good show on Instagram with witch hazel, hellebores, snowdrops, and iris. Hellebores are one of my favorite late winter bloomers and I have plans to plant so very many in my front garden. One of these days.
Wisley is the flagship garden of the RHS with two hundred and forty acres of formal and informal gardens, trial gardens, fields, glasshouses, an extensive arboretum, and a canal. I don’t know why, but the canal just puts this garden over the top for me.
If you need soothing, I recommend sitting back and relaxing with “Slow TV: The Dawn Chorus” from the RHS’ YouTube channel. Nearly four hours of quiet bird song and the gentle rippling of water as the sun slowly brightens the scene.
Of course, I can’t mention about snowdrops without sharing England’s most famous snowdrop garden in the world – Colesbourne Park, Gloucestershire. The snowdrop collection originated in the plantings made by Henry John Elwes, a man who became one of the prominent galanthophiles (yes, it’s a thing) of his time after “discovering” Galanthus elwesiis in Turkey in 1874, and now contains more than two hundred cultivars.