Pages

Monday, 8 February 2010

A Galanthophiles Delight: Colesbourne Park.


Last Sunday there was a rare day of winter sunshine so I decided to make the most of it and take in some snowdrops. After a very pleasant drive through the Cotswolds I arrived at Colesbourne Park. Colesbourne Park was the home of Henry John Elwes (1846-1922) who was a traveller and naturalist. During his lifetime he introduced many plants into cultivation among them was Galanthus elwesii (named after him), which he found whilst travelling in Turkey in 1874. It was Henry John Elwes who began the snowdrop collection at Colesbourne.

Galanthus 'Hippolyta' (Greatorex double, regular skirts)

After Elwes death in 1922 the collection lay undisturbed for sixty years until his great grandson Sir Henry Elwes and his wife began to identify the plants and spread them around the park. Lady Elwes has added many further species and cultivars and today over 160 cultivars can be found at Colesbourne.
 
 Galanthus plicatus 'Colossus' (originated at Colesbourne)

As you leave the car park you immediately walk into the arboretum with a carpet of snowdrops beneath the trees. They are displayed beautifully nestling amongst moss, tiny tendrils of ivy and crisp copper beech leaves. It was decidedly cold, but the afternoon sun made the area look quite magical.


The snowdrop collection is clearly labelled and people were on hand to talk and answer any questions about them. The atmosphere in the park was friendly, and they seemed genuinely excited at the interest visitors were showing in the collection. I visited on the last weekend in January. The snow has put back the flowering of many of the plants by approximately two weeks, but this has meant that several of the early double varieties that are often missed on open days were just starting to flower.


It was a very brisk Sunday afternoon and there was a sense of more snow in the air. Apart from the snowdrops I was not quite sure what to expect from my visit to Colesbourne Park. I had not been prepared for the beauty of the woods and the beguiling blue lake beyond them. I looked for several minutes at the lake when I first saw it, as I could just not believe its colour. The lake was created in 1922. Its amazing colour is believed to be caused by suspended clay particles in the water.


The trees in the park were heavily draped with moss, lichen and ferns all adding to the enchantment of the place.

Galanthus 'Lady Belatrix Stanley'

Galanthus 'Hippolyta'


As I left the woods and lake and headed to the back of the house I could see the traces of a formal garden. Again here just as the trees had been covered in moss and lichen so had the stonework. The garden had the feel of a place that had been slumbering for many years and was gradually blending into the landscape in which it rested.



Berberis berries

All around the estate there were winter flowering shrubs and plants that gave interest such as the bright Cornus stems planted near the lake, Berberis branches heavily laden with berries, the delicate flowers of Lonicera fragrantissima and the alien looking stems of Euonymus alata. Cyclamen were just coming into flower along with a good display of hellebores.

Helleborus foetidus


Little remains of the formal garden as it was. A dormant herbaceous border lay at the back of the terrace. A few snowdrops were peeking though the bare earth. The sunken lawn was once full of rose beds but today the only survivors of the original plantings are the clipped box shapes. Although nothing was in flower the sleeping garden was quite beautiful, the moss on the steps, lichen on the wall and self seeded Euphorbia's in the gravel all alluded to a garden with an old fashioned, slightly unkempt kind of charm.



Hydrangea



The Ice House (c.1760)

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs McNamara'




Within the park at Colesbourne was a beautiful church. Small streams flowed close by in the shadows of the majestic trees in their green moss jackets.






Colesbourne Park is open every weekend in February and whether you are a galanthophile or not this is a hauntingly beautiful winter landscape that is definitely worth exploring.


33 comments:

Carol said...

RO, I am speechless but must tell you ... how utterly stunningly beautiful this post is!! What a magnificent place... the trees, the lake... and the SNOWDROPS! Thank you for this! Carol

Amy said...

Beautiful post!

debsgarden said...

I would love to have been with you on your visit to Colesbourne Park! It is truly an enchanting place, with echos of history long past. The water of that lake is amazing. There is a lake near me with water that color. It is in an old quarry. Our land has a lot of clay, as well as limestone, so maybe that is it. I absolutely love the bridge over the creek and all those mossy trees. So much to feast the eyes and rest the soul upon.

Bernie said...

What a beautiful place. I just loved all the photos - they show off this stunning winter landscape so well. I particularly enjoyed the shot of the blue lake and that magnificent gnarled tree draped in moss.

jro said...

Stunning photos, as ever, RO. I particularly like the trees in their mossy jackets.

I have seen quite a few ponds and lakes with the suspended clay particles, but have never managed to capture their colour in the way that you have.

shirl said...

Good morning RO, what a fantastic post to see first thing! Aren’t snowdrops just the best white stuff to cover the ground :-D

Thanks for sharing your visit. I absolutely love snowdrop tours and gardens like this really are just magical just now. That blue lake is really something special! Brilliant captures – with that moss and ivy covered tree as breathtaking as the snowdrops :-D

Absolutely loved the moss on stone and roofs around the garden. So many breathtaking photos. Oh yes, great snowdrop displays and close-ups too! I love this sleeping garden :-D

You have me in the mood for heading out to see some snowdrops now myself. Our displays here in Scotland will be behind yours though.

Have a great week… you’ve started mine very nicely :-D

M@M aka VP ;) said...

Yum! Patient Gardener and I are off to Painswick next week to do some snowdrop peeping :)

Edith Hope said...

Dear Ro, What a magical setting. And how interesting as I had no idea that Elwes, of galanthophile fame, had lived at Colesbourne.

Your pictures very much capture the romantic mid winter feel of the park and gardens; in many ways it is rather refreshing to discover somewhere which has a kind of sleeping beauty quality rather than being too pristine. The fact that the formal gardens are really no longer and may in parts have returned to Nature, I find very appealing.

Teresa O said...

This post...this lovely sleeping garden took my breath away. This is the stuff my dreams are made of...quiet, hauntingly beautiful, moss covered and other wordly. Such places are few and far between in Ohio.

I keep coming back because I know I will leave enchanted.

Aspidistra said...

That looks a really magical place, yet another one to add to the long list of Gardens I Must See. xx

catmint said...

ditto - Aspidistra has said what I feel.

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

RO, I had to look twice at your first picture, at first, I thought that was a sprinkle of snow on the ground. And then the tour started, what an enchanting, magical place. The picture of the mossy gnarly tree against the blue of the water, unbelievable!

Tim said...

Your reference to this being "hauntingly beautiful" perfectly captures the place!

Nutty Gnome said...

I've never been to Colesbourne Park, but it looks like I've been missing out on a real gem!

What a stunningly beautiful place it is - I loved the moss and lichen and the amazing blueness of the lake. The ice house roof is wonderful ....I hope my tea house roof ages so gracefully!

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Such a sense of history there, I am fascinated by the ice house.

And to see so many varieties of snowdrops all in one location, you are fortunate.

Jen

Noelle said...

Hello RO,

You know, I had never seen snowdrops before joining blotanical and visiting other blogs. I like them very much. I would love to see them in Colesbourne Park. I do love old, somewhat unkempt gardens.

Stone Art said...

That place looks fantastic, your photos are amazing.

Vivienne said...

What beautiful pictures of those snowdrops. I also noticed some this weekend. Great hellebore too!

fairegarden said...

This is a place with an appeal in its decay. I was in love with the snowdrops, but it was the lake, trees, moss and lichens that captured my heart. The moss blanketing the limbs of the tree takes us back in time, to a storybook setting. Enchanting!
Frances

Tammy said...

What an absolutely enchanting, and magical place. I wish I could see it in person. Beautiful shots.

Andrea said...

Hi RO, this is an awesome, marvelous (am running out of superlatives) to describe this place and your photos. The artisticity of them all aroused an inherent peacefullness. And how i wish i had read this before i went to Turkey and introduced to the snowdrops. That was the first time i've known this Gallanthus and they are really wonderful. http://abagillon.blogspot.com/Turkey

BTW, the change in your header is beautiful.

lostlandscape (James) said...

As one writing from a land where it (almost) never snows, I'm amazed by the differences between the snowdrops. I had no idea there were so many subtle variations to study. Lovely!

easygardener said...

It looks a very atmospheric garden. I should do more winter garden visits as you have a very different experience. I love Snowdrops but am baffled by the large number of varieties. I see different heights, singles and doubles but am lost after that!

Miranda Bell said...

This is such a beautiful posting - love the photos and such wonderful names for the snowdrops... I think I will have to add this place to my list of "want to visit" one day... looks just the kind of place I'd like! Have a good week Miranda

HappyMouffetard said...

Beautiful photos, RO. The snowdrops are a couple of weeks behind up here- I visited Ness Gardens today and the flowers are still tightly shut.
Colesbourne looks magical.

Kyna said...

Now that I've picked my jaw up off the floor, I can tell you WOW! :D
That place is amazing looking :D

Gail said...

This is a magical garden! gail

Martyn Cox said...

Great post. I'm such a sucker for a snowdrop spectacular. Visited Hodsock Priory earlier this week, which usually has an amazing display, but is currently about a week behind.

kate smudges said...

Your photographs are beautiful and truly give a sense of place ~ I felt as if I was touring the gardens alongside you. The snowdrops must be spectacular to see in person. In winter this garden has a majestic beauty.

Terra said...

You do inspire me to visit this estate's gardens, altho I would need to get on an airplane to do that.
Great photos here, of snow drops, moss on old trees, and the entire ambiance.

Jess said...

So pretty, and really, a good eye behind that camera!

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Oh, I'm overcome with envy, Ro. I love, love, LOVE galanthus, don't have nearly enough here though I plant more yearly, and dream of seeing displays such as these. The fun part is, it will be at least another 6 weeks, possibly longer, before I see any of my own snowdrops. Possibly longer. Happily, I never tire of posts about them, and love your new header too. (this week with Blotanical out of whack coincided with my own life being out of whack so I'm way behind with reading. Again.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Beautiful photographs of a dream-like Park. The gardens have a lovely "sleeping" quality, without being in the least bit messy or unkempt.

That takes some doing.