The Snowdrop and Hellebore Extravaganza held at Goodnestone on Sunday 22 February was a great success. At one time, the forecast promised 30mph winds and rain but the day dawned with bright sunshine and no wind and, although the weather deteriorated over the day, the rain held off until we were on our way home. We considered ourselves very lucky.
Members staged a delightful display so visitors could see the wide variety of different snowdrop forms available and some other plants to grow with them. And they didn’t have to look far to see where they could obtain some for their own gardens. The nurseries all arrived with lots of lovely plants including rare and unusual snowdrops. The Kent Group plant stall was particularly well stocked with plants including some very pretty hellebores and unusual snowdrops – at very reasonable prices!
At noon many of us were able to go indoors – but not the nurserymen, who had to continue braving the elements to sell to the visitors. We went in to listen to our speaker, award-winning journalist Val Bourne, who gave an excellent talk explaining the history, not of snowdrops but of her interest in them. Her talk included information together with many anecdotes given in a most entertaining and amusing way making the hour just fly by. The name snowdrop didn’t appear until the seventeenth century and is thought to be a corruption of ‘Schneetropfen’ the German word used to describe the pearl earrings that were so fashionable then. The bulbs have been used in medicine and modern science has found that they contain a chemical, galanthamine, now used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. She told us about some of the characters she has met, sometimes quite fortuitously, who have been influential in the growing of snowdrops, and some of the best places to go to see them.
By the afternoon the wind had got up and the sun disappeared but a brisk walk round the gardens on dry, bark-covered paths provided a pleasant end to the day. Camellias, witch hazel and early blossom (I haven’t yet found out what that pink blossom is) provided colour and daphnes and sarcococca the perfume.
A ‘host’ of daffodils just starting into bloom reminded us that spring is on the way.