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Our little black book of enchanting places



Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O'Sullivan

Around about now, Wordsworth’s ‘venturous harbinger of Spring’, the snowdrop, will begin pushing its way through the frozen soil, to form thick drifts by the end of the month. To see these delicate flowers at their most magical, visit a snowdrop garden listed by the National Garden Scheme. Alternatively, do as we’ll be doing, and head north of the border to the Scottish Snowdrop Festival.

The Scottish Snowdrop Festival runs from January 31 until mid March and more than 60 gardens – some of which are rarely open to the public – take part, offering woodland rambles, churchyard walks and tours by moonlight. There are even snowdrop-themed afternoon teas. Full programme details are available from VisitScotland. Meanwhile, here are six events to whet your appetite.Cambo Estate, St Andrews, Fife
70 acres of woodland walks, Cambo also holds the national collection of snowdrops. During the festival, the estate runs magical Snowdrops by Starlight evenings, transforming its snowdrop wood into an enchanted forest. The evenings take place between 5.30pm and 9.15pm, on February 11-15; adult £10.50, children, £5.50. Booking essential. Further information, Snowdrops by Starlight (image via Snowdrops by Starlight at Cambo Estate, Fife © Sir Peter Erskine) 

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh extends over four gardens and is a world-renowned centre for plant science and education. During the Scottish Snowdrop Festival guided tours will showcase the Royal Botanic Garden’s collection of specialist snowdrops. Tours will take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, between February 13 and March 8 2015, 11am-12.30pm; £5. Further information, Royal Botanic Garden EdinburghDunninald Gardens, Montrose, Angus
Families living at the early 19-century Dunninald Castle (above) have been planting snowdrops for many years, resulting in a rich carpet running through the woods and wild garden (the bluebells in May are equally beautiful). The gardens are open on 28 February, 1, 7 and 8 March only, from noon-5pm; adult £4, children free. Further information, Dunninald Gardens

Castle Kennedy and Gardens, Stranraer, Wigtownshire
Surrounded by two large natural lochs. This is one of the most beautiful gardens in Scotland, Attractions include sculpted landforms, bird hides and fauna, and, at this time of year, magnificent snowdrop walks. 10am-5pm; adult £5.50, children £2. Further information, Castle Kennedy and Gardens
Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, Scottish Borders
Part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Dawyck (above) is one of the world’s finest arboreta and though stunning in summer, it’s particularly beautiful in winter when thousands of snowdrops push up through the frost and snow. Adult £6, chlldren free. Further information, Dawyck Botanic Garden

Cringletie House, Peebles, Scottish Borders
The millions of snowdrops at Cringletie House are believed to have been planted and grown wildly since the days of the Crimean War. After marvelling at the blankets of snowdrops, visitors can tuck into Snowdrop Scones, served with afternoon tea throughout the festival. Further information, Cringletie House

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