Snowdrop Festival at Pinetum Park

Snowdrop Festival at Pinetum Park

The humble snowdrop also has some fascinating properties, such as improving sleep and treating those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Galanthophiles and ‘Snowdrop Fanciers’ will love a visit to Pinetum Gardens to discover around 60 different types of Snowdrop, a winter flower that first begins to break ground in January and flowers until March signalling the start of Spring.

Not native to the UK, no-one can say for sure when snowdrops were brought into the country, however they became fashionable in the mid-19th Century when the small, white flower caught the eye of the Victorians. In recent years they have become something of a cult flower again.

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Enjoy spotting the common varieties of Snowdrop like Galanthus Nivalis, to more collectible and rare varieties such as ‘Grumpy’ (Galanthus Elwesii), whose inner markings resemble a grumpy face and Ecusson d’Or an unusual variation of the common snowdrop whose six of the petals are yellow-tipped on mature bulbs with smaller bulbs in each clump having white outer petals.

The humble snowdrop also has some fascinating properties, such as improving sleep and treating those with Alzheimer’s disease.

During February Pinetum’s Winter Garden, one of the largest in the South West, will be in full bloom. Created with the colder months in mind, the 3 acre individual garden is designed like a rose with paths spiralling away from the centre. Visitors can discover winter flowers, warm foliage and scented leaves. A feature of the Winter Garden is the interesting and beautiful quality of the bark on the various trees as well as many varietals of heather, hundreds of bulbs and unusual evergreen trees.

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Colours for All Seasons… Looking forward to Spring the Top Garden is crowned with a white scented wisteria covered bridge over a waterfall-fed pond. A perfect garden to see in early Spring the garden is full of azaras which have the sweet scent of vanilla as well as berberis, abelias, michelias, syringas and many more. The Japanese Garden is also worth a visit. Seeds were sourced from the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, and new plants are added each year, making this tranquil garden authentically Japanese. Visitors can enjoy this garden from the 17th Century recreated Japanese summer house which overlooks the lake. For garden lovers and plant enthusiasts there is nowhere better to visit all year round.

Snowdrop Fanciers Fact File

• They have medicinal properties, producing a substance called galantamine. This is sold as a medication for Alzheimer’s disease under the name of Reminyl.

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• A single bulb once sold for a record-breaking £350!

• They are a symbol of hope

• They can be deadly… Due to the bulb’s likeness to its relative, the onion, it has often been mistakenly eaten, poisoning the unfortunate nibbler.

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• They are prophetic flowers, although very pretty a single flower indicates impending death and it should never be brought into the house. This is possibly as a result of the poisonous qualities it possesses.

• They are endangered and protected in some areas, particularly Turkey and Georgia.

• They are not great pollinators, which is one of the reasons that the bulbs are so valuable. As the flowers tend to grow at a time of year when there are few pollinating insects around, the plant has had to develop a different approach to furthering its species. Bulbs will split when dormant and begin to sprout new flowers.

• They’re a natural thermometer, since the 1990’s snowdrops have been arriving increasingly quickly. These days they are sometimes found as early in the year as January, an indication of the UK’s changing climate.

Pinetum Gardens, Holmbush, St Austell, Cornwall, PL25 3RQ * 01726 73500 * pinetumpark.com

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Steve Ott

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