Where to see snowdrops in Essex: 10 stunning places

PUBLISHED: 10:43 19 January 2021 | UPDATED: 11:13 19 January 2021

Hatfield Forest snowdrops (c) James Stringer, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Hatfield Forest snowdrops (c) James Stringer, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Catching sight of the elusive snowdrop is a special feeling in the early months of a new year as this small flower signifies the beginning of spring and new life. Here are 10 of the best places in Essex to see them

 

1) Daws Hall

 

Many readers of Essex Life are familiar with the nature reserve and gardens at Daws Hall, Lamarsh, near Bures. Usually, the Trustees invite people to go and view their large areas of snowdrops and winter flowers during the annual celebration in February - check the website for the latest.

Tickets are usually £6 for adults and £1 for children over five. Any donations to support the work of the Daws Hall Trust are welcome but entirely at your discretion.

 

 

2) Marks Hall Estate

 

Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum is set in more than 200 acres of picturesque landscape. Every year in February a carpet of three varieties of delicate white snowdrops emerges from the woodland floor in the Robins Grove area and Marks Hall is opened for Snowdrop Weekends. That likely won't be the case for 2021 but check the website for updates.

 

The moist, rich soils and semi-shaded woodland provides the perfect conditions for snowdrops to thrive and you can peruse the estate with a woodland walk or see the trees in the Millennium Walk area reflected in the nearby lake. There is plenty of other fascinating flora to admire in the Estate, from witch hazel to Himalayan birches down to the fragile snowdrops.

 

 

3) Audley End

 

One of the greatest manors in early 17th century England, Audley End House, the English Heritage estate, also has a beautiful landscape garden that is open year round for visitors. Although Audley End does not have a specific snowdrops day, the gardens are definitely worth a visit in the spring where you might catch sight of one.

 

Make a day out of it by popping in to the Servants' Hall Tea Room for cake and coffee. With a historical focus and stunning surroundings, you will feel like you've been transported back in time.

 

 

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4) Hedingham Castle

 

Hedingham Castle is surely one of the grandest castles in Essex, even being used as a set for films and television, possibly because it has been unchanged for over 900 years.

 

The breathtaking grounds of Hedingham Castle are usually opened for Snowdrop Sundays in February, but again, that likely won't happen in 2021 - check the website for details. There is plenty to see all year round but in February the grounds are covered with at least 13 types of snowdrops and with beautiful views of the Georgian Manor House and the café opening too, this is set to be a truly romantic day out.

 

 

Hedingham castle Snowdrops

5) Gibberd Gardens

 

This Grade II listed garden boasts architectural intrigue, attractive art installations along, plenty of unique flora and a tranquil atmosphere - what more could you want from a day out early in the new year?

 

Run and maintained by volunteers, this unique and stunning house and gardens is a wonderful spot to escape and to immerse yourself in the incredible natural surroundings. Although it is closed during winter, they usually open for special snowdrop days in February. Check the website for details.

 

 

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6) Easton Lodge

 

Easton Lodge in Great Dunmow has an intriguing history and dramatic renovations of the 'forgotten gardens' means that visiting the lodge is truly a treat. There is an atmospheric Italian garden that attracts lots of wildlife as well as a 1.9 acre walled garden.

 

The volunteers at Easton Lodge are working hard to restore these historic gardens to their former glory yet the gorgeous renovated areas and rugged wildlife remain beautiful all year round. Along with the popular guided tours, the Lodge usually hosts snowdrop open days in February. Check the website for details. 

 

 

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7) Green Island Gardens

 

The Green Island Gardens are a charming set of beautiful themed gardens including the Japanese garden, the water garden, and the seaside garden, each providing ample variety throughout the year.

 

There is also a woodland garden which is carpeted with snowdrops in January and February and is the perfect place to welcome the New Year. Head over throughout January and February to see the snowdrops. Under current government guidelines, Green Island Gardens is open to the public, although the tearoom is closed.

 

 

8) Copped Hall

 

There is a grand rock garden, a four-acre, 18th century walled garden, and a 450-foot long herbaceous border all on the grounds of Copped Hall in Epping. Just a few years ago this grand hall was merely a ruin but now guided tours are on offer to allow you to observe the ongoing restoration project and peruse the gardens.

 

Usually, you can book on to a tour to see the mid-18th century country house with its colourful history and have refreshments at the end of your visit, but that's on hold for the moment. Check the website for the latest.

 

 

Copped Hall, Near Epping

9) Beth Chatto Gardens

 

When Beth Chatto started working on the gardens in 1960, the area was little more than an overgrown bramble patch with parched gravel and boggy ditches. After decades of tireless work, however, the gardens have been transformed into a utopia containing plants from all over the world.

 

Throughout January and February snowdrops will be blooming in the gardens and there are usually special charity events offering an insight into the history of snowdrops, how you can create your own swathes of the flower and how best to plant them. Tickets are still on sale for the Beautiful Winter Snowdrops event on 27 February 2021 (11am-12pm) for £20, but do check with the venue as to whether this event will go ahead.

 

 

10) Hatfield Forest

 

As one of Britain's finest remaining examples of Royal Hunting Forest, this National Trust woodland near Stansted Airport has been influenced by centuries of human intervention.

 

As well as the patches of snowdrops you'll encounter during January and February, you'll have the opportunity to see many of the 3,500 species of wildlife that call the woodland home and ancient trees that are over 1000 years old. Under current government guidelines, Hatfield Forest is open for local visitors to access for walks, but you will need to book your parking in advance.

 

 

Snowdrops in Hatfield Forest

 

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