Hodsock Priory has appeared here before. We’ve just been back. Snowdrops as sensational as ever, but, successfully promoted, they’ve spawned a slew of white tents to cope with lunches, teas, plant sales (some totally gorgeous double hellebores, and, of course, a rather expensive assemblage of snowdrops), and even refreshments if you feel peckish as the snowdrop drifts come to an end, and need a seat by enticing pile of burning baulks of timber to warm chilled toes.
The Priory has split into two distinct businesses, one being weddings (and a year round earner), and the other being the snowdrops (perhaps six weeks or so). I like snowdrops, and I do wish I could get excited about the differences between ‘Sam Arnott’, ‘Magnet’, ‘Viridipicis’, and the thousand others. For me, sadly, once you’ve seen one, etc etc. And after half a million, as here… Well…
The rest of the garden has much to offer, now, with drifts of Eranthis, more of Helleborus orientalis, clumps of Cyclamen coum that will make most gardeners burst with envy, the earliest of all Narcissus to flower, and named after a once well-known artist (Cedric Morris), and some enviable shrubs.
Last week, the most exciting of these was the Parrotia persica, always recommended for its sumptuous autumn colour. In fact, it is even more valuable now, with its abundant clusters of showy wine-red anthers. Gorgeous.
At Hodsock, it’s planted near Chimonanthus praecox, flowers like tiny washed-out yellow dusters, but with a piercing, slightly weird perfume that sets the senses reeling.
Both of these wonders are slow growing. If you are young, and plan to keep your garden forever, plants both tomorrow.