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Hever Castle Snow Drops

18th October 2023

Snowdrop numbers double at Hever Castle & Gardens over the last 7 years

With over 140,000 snowdrop bulbs planted in the grounds at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle & Gardens ‘Snowdrop Walk’ is not to be missed this February.

Rather fittingly for Hever Castle & Gardens, the first snowdrops cultivated in Britain were documented in 1598 during the reign of Elizabeth I - who, it is traditionally thought, visited Hever Castle & Gardens, the childhood home of her mother Anne Boleyn.

There’s a religiosity to these delicate white flowers that gently trumpet the closing month of winter and the hope for spring to come.

Snowdrop Walks (a self-guided tour) takes the visitor to Hever Castle & Gardens along a wonderful exploratory tour of the Outer Moat, the Winter Gardens and through Sunday Walk and Church Gill.

Neil Miller, head gardener at Hever Castle & Gardens, has a passion for the galanthus flower and has planted on average 10,000 extra snowdrops every year since 2017, doubling the number from 70,000 seven years ago to 140,000 today. Neil explains "Thousands of galanthus nivalis can be found blooming away on the Outer Moat, patrolled by a pair of our white swans, while up on Sunday Walk, snowdrops accompany the walker all the way up to Church Gill where unusual varieties have been planted in this newly developing garden.

"The Winter Garden at Hever Castle is also home to some unusual snowdrops like the giant ‘Colossus’, ‘Wendy’s Gold’ (a yellow-tinged beauty), ‘Grumpy’ (with markings that mimic a sad face) and Galanthus ‘Green Brush’.

There's much to learn about these tiny green and white flowers, Neill Miller enthuses; "known for their medicinal properties and ability to cure headaches (those with a throbbing head would pick and gently rub the bulb at their temples!), snowdrops were traditionally grown in churchyards to coincide with Candlemas Day (2nd February)."

Visitors to Hever Castle & Gardens during February will find further snowdrop facts spaced around the ground. Visitors will be able to learn how:

  • The snowdrop plant was first logged by the godfather of the snowdrop world Carl Linnaeus as Galanthus nivalis - the word comes from the Greek ‘Gala’ meaning milk and ‘Anthos’ meaning flower.
  • Snowdrops weren’t named after drops of snow but instead after ‘eardrops’ - the name for earrings worn by women of the 15-17th century.
  • Snowdrops contain their own antifreeze proteins and were once harvested during the First World War to make antifreeze for tanks
  • It’s unlucky to bring a single snowdrop into your home, it’s akin to inviting death inside.
  • William Wordsworth wasn’t just enamoured with daffodils, in 1819 he was inspired by the galanthus plant to write the poem ‘To a snowdrop’

Self-guided snowdrop walks at Hever Castle & Gardens will begin on the 7 February 2024 and run from 10:30 - 3pm daily (Last Exit 4.30PM). Snowdrop Walk is included in the garden ticket entry price.

For further details visit www.hevercastle.co.uk

Image of Hever Castle - copyright Hever Castle. Image of galanthus snowdrops by Vikki Rimmer

Hever Castle

Hever Castle Ltd