Out There column: Snowdrops get a weekend all of their own

Tree damaged by high winds at the Pointer Roundabout in Lancaster.
Tree damaged by high winds at the Pointer Roundabout in Lancaster.

Snowdrops are a delight in the garden as their delicate blooms herald the coming of spring.

These exquisite flowers are everywhere at the moment; by roadsides, in our gardens and in the wild.

However, some gardeners go a step further and make snowdrops a special feature for all to enjoy.

The Snowdrop Weekend at Hornby Castle Gardens in the Lune Valley has become a popular annual event – even when the weather is stormy.

Mark (aka Sparky) and I went to the snowdrop event at Hornby Castle for the first time on Sunday.

As usual, Sparky had to be coaxed out of the car but the woodland walk, with its drift plantings of snowdrops, was worth the effort.

Mark’s mum Linda – a keen gardener – was as eager as me to have a look around.

Like many gardens in the Lancaster and Morecambe area, Hornby Castle’s have been bombarded by high winds and rain.

The evidence of storm damage was all around – limbs torn from trees and battered plants.

Most of the snowdrops looked beautiful but some plants in more exposed areas looked a little ragged.

This winter temperatures have been relatively mild so plants such as snowdrops have been flowering earlier than usual.

Sadly, it meant that some of the snowdrops were fading on our visit.

However, there was plenty to see and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the historic grounds.

Our favourite spot was the River Walk where huge banks of snowdrops had been planted over the years. Enormous trees towered overhead and the River Wenning thundered past.

It was a secluded and atmospheric spot. I could have spent hours sitting there and admiring the views.

After exploring the riverside paths, we took a look at the impressive walled garden.

Many rare and unusual species of snowdrop were on sale and we admired the well managed kitchen garden.

We also spotted a pond which was full of frogs and frogspawn – another sign that temperatures have been mild this winter.

The castle wasn’t open to the public as it is a private residence, so we viewed its architecture from afar. I’m told that the central tower, or keep, dates back to 1512 and the house was rebuilt in the 1820s in the early Victorian style.

If you like the sound of Hornby Castle Gardens, there will be another open day on the weekend of May 24 to 25 from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Many of the castle’s other interesting plants will be in bloom by then.