|George, Belinda, Andrew and Kat Buchanan in the snowdrop wood at Hodsock Priory|
Twenty-five years ago Sir Andrew and Lady Buchanan decided to open their garden at Hodsock Priory, Nottinghamshire, for people to see their snowdrops, the first of the 'big' snowdrop gardens to do so. They quickly realised there was a market for snowdrop viewing and developed the garden and adjacent woodland into a winter garden destination, attracting huge numbers of visitors in snowdrop season. The garden was extensively replanted for winter effect under the guidance in the 1990s of Kate Garton and the snowdrop collection and plantings significantly expanded.
As with the Elwes family at Colesbourne the Buchanan's connection with snowdrops is ancestral. Andrew's grandmother was Lady Beatrix Stanley, commemorated by the eponymous double snowdrop and an Iris histrioides
cultivar, and his mother Barbara Buchanan is commemorated by 'Barbara's Double' and 'St Anne's' for her residence. Andrew and Belinda have now passed the reins of the house and garden management to their son George and his wife Kat, who were the hosts this morning at a press day - a miraculously sunny and calm press day, after the terrible recent storms and dull weather.
My first contact with Hodsock came in 1997 when I was dispersing Primrose Warburg's collection of snowdrops and other plants from South Hayes. Primrose had acquired a lot of snowdropos from Lady Beatrix's old garden at Sibbertoft Manor and these were grown on a rough bank always called the Sibbertoft Bank, where they had self-sown and produced a number of excellent seedlings. I gave Kate Garton a number of clumps from the Sibbertoft Bank and these were planted in a particular area of the garden at Hodsock - see below. My solitary previous visit to Hodsock had been in the following year, so this revisit was long overdue - it certainly won't be another 17 years before I return!
|The main display in the woodland area is of Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' - the common double snowdrop it may be but nothing creates such solid white carpets.|
|Hodsock Priory never was a priory; the main house dates from the 19th C, but the Tudor gatehouse is original.|
|It's good to see that the snowdrops from South Hayes are still remembered and honoured as having come from the legendary Primrose Warburg.|
|The South Hayes snowdrops have been happily sowing themselves and have made a nice patch of variable G. plicatus (mostly), preserving the Sibbertoft genetics.|
|The garden round the house has been planned and planted for winter effect, and was looking good in the bright sunshine today.|
|This large, robust Scilla bifolia, which I've always known as 'Praecox' is a rare plant, but very much associated with the older generation of galanthophiles - it was nice to see it at Hodsock, linking the generations.|