The emergence of dainty white flowers, as they doggedly push through February’s snow is a welcome and delightful sign for many that spring is on the way. To celebrate their arrival, each year many of Scotland’s best gardens and woodlands open and come together to offer visitors and locals alike, a range of fabulous events that collectively make up the Scottish Snowdrop Festival.
Organised by Discover Scottish Gardens, many of the gardens are open especially for the festival, which in 2020 runs from 25 January – 11 March. Entry to some gardens is free, though some do charge a small fee or encourage visitors to leave a donation.
There are over 70 events this year that are included in the festival programme, why not visit a few and get set for spring?
Perfect for crisp winter walks, here are just a few of the festival gardens which are waiting to light up your day with their dazzling displays of snowdrops:
Cambo Estate, Fife
Cambo Estate is a snowdrop wonderland, bursting with swathes of these delicate flowers, including rare blooms. Head to this lovely estate near St Andrews, to enjoy a walk out to the sea through the snowdrop woodland, plus guided tours and family activity sessions. There’s likely to be special snowdrop events taking place too, so keep checking the Cambo Estate website. Don’t miss the snowdrop themed tearoom and plant shop where you can buy a snowdrop plant to take home.
Dunvegan Castle & Gardens, Isle of Skye
Imposing Dunvegan Castle, with it’s delightful and wonderfully tended gardens has been home to the chiefs of Clan Macleod for the last 800 years. The castle is perched on the edge of Loch Dunvegan to the north-west of the Isle of Skye. Stretching over 5 acres, the castle’s gardens are much younger, being designed and planted in the 18th century, but are no less impressive.
Come and view the delicate snowdrops throughout the gardens from 18 February and see the gardeners hard at work, making sure everything looks wonderful for visitors when the castle and gardens fully open for the season. Remember to wrap up warm, bring waterproofs and wear sensible footwear. Tea, coffee and cakes will be available, for a donation to local charities.
Fyvie Castle, Garden & Estate, Aberdeenshire
Fyvie Castle, on Scotland’s Castle Trail, has a rich history that stretches back 800 years. The castle’s gardens and grounds are also well worth exploring if you’re in the north-east. From late-January to early-March the woods here are carpeted with naturalised common snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).
On 9 February, join their Head Gardener for a guided walk through the snowdrop covered floor of the new woodland garden, where they’re making what’s known as the ‘shrubbery’. Hear about future project plans (including plans to build a snowdrops collection) and see all the wonderful trees and shrubs that have been planted so far. The tour will finish with tea or coffee and scones in the castle tea room, which will be specially opened for the event. Advance booking online by 6 February to attend this event is essential.
Gardens and grounds will be open to visitors from dawn to dusk daily throughout the festival, however the tearoom will only open on the day of the event.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Dawyck Botanic Garden & Logan Botanic Garden
Explore the wonderful collections of specialist snowdrops at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Dawyck Botanic Garden near Peebles and Logan Botanic Garden near Stranraer.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh marks its 350th anniversary in 2020 and is hosting a year-long programme of events to celebrate this. You’ll also find plenty of delicate snowdrops to enjoy here. Visit and explore the stunning gardens for yourself, or join one of the guided tours on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. In February, take advantage of the ‘kids eat free’ offer in the Gateway Restaurant.
Dawyck Botanic Garden is a stunning garden in the Scottish Borders, where you’ll see gleaming snowdrops set against the enchanting backdrop of the shimmering Scrape Burn. You can also enjoy a guided tour with an expert every Sunday in February and March.
Logan Botanic Garden is situated in the mild surroundings of the Rhins of Galloway in southern Scotland and is renowned as Scotland’s most exotic garden, with early flowering rhododendrons and camellias to enjoy, as well as snowdrops.
Scone Palace, Perthshire
Scone Palace (pronounced Scoon) near the city of Perth, has been the home of the Earl’s of Mansfield for over 400 years and 38 Scottish kings were crowned here in bygone times. The palace grounds will be open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 31 January – 8 March for the Scottish Snowdrop Festival.
Enjoy walking through drifts of enchanting snowdrops, which can be found throughout the grounds, lining Lime Avenue and hiding in the shadows of towering conifers. The majority of the snowdrops here are of the Galanthus nivalis variety. Although not native to Britain, they have naturalised extremely well and enjoy the conditions here in the palace grounds.
At the end of your walk, treat yourself to a delicious hot chocolate and one of their famed scones (pronounced Scon this time!).
Teasses Gardens, Fife
The beautiful seasonal gardens of Teasses Estate near Ceres are a joy to behold, and burst into winter-white life each February with an abundance of naturalised snowdrops in Sir Fraser’s woodland garden. Normally the gardens are only open to visitors strictly by appointment, but they will open every Wednesday from 1 February to 1 March for the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, allowing visitors to witness this usually private site.
Teasses Gardens will open for bespoke tours during the season from 1 April, so use this early opportunity to see some lovely colour and interest in this private garden.
Scotland’s Gardens Scheme: Snowdrops and Winter Walks
As part of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, twenty-six gardens will open under Scotland’s Garden Scheme (SGS) umbrella, to raise money for charity. Visiting one of SGS’s fine selection of gardens, most of which are in private ownership, is an inspiring experience. Many of their gardens welcome dogs on leads and some provide homemade teas. A full list of SGS Snowdrops and Winter Walks 2020, with times, directions, accessibility information, selected charities and other details, can be found on the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme website.