Although most events we feature have a fixed date and time, the Snowdrops and Cyclamen event at Killerton is a little different. These early bulbs vary in when they flower according to how cold or wet the winter has been. Consequently Killerton puts on the Snowdrops and Cyclamen event throughout February and March but advises visitors to call first (01392 881345) to check what's in flower.
The National Trust gardens at Killerton House were designed by John Veitch before the house was even built. They are always beautifully maintained. In spring they are particularly lovely as stunning displays of Cyclamen in various shades of pink, white and cerise decorate the garden. Drifts of white snowdrops are also some of the first flowers to appear in the gardens, on lawned areas and in the chapel grounds.
Later in the year the gardens display more colour with magnificent azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and rare species such as the exotic tulip trees which blend in with the surrounding Devon countryside and farmland. If you return to Killerton, you can take a guided tour of the gardens with the gardener on Fridays from March to October.
Killerton Gardens display Snowdrops and Cyclamens
Visitors to Killerton in February usually visit specifically to enjoy the Snowdrops and Cyclamen displays that have been flowering in the grounds for many decades. The glorious landscaped garden has huge established oak trees providing the damp shady conditions that cyclamen and snowdrops thrive in. There is also a large pond where you may see early ducklings.
When in full bloom you cannot see the grass for the carpet of colour created by the bright pink and purple cyclamen flowers. Banks of white snowdrops with their dropping bell-shaped flower heads are also a picture beneath the bare trees. A great place to find hidden banks of snowdrops is along the goyle (a sunken path).
This manmade ditch with its high banks was part of the old deer pale. The deer were enclosed by the ditch and there was a wooden fence of palings along the top of the bank to keep them contained. The idea dates back to mediaeval times but the pale at Killerton was established in the 18th century.
What's so special about Killerton House
Killerton is a fine 18th century house on a huge estate in the charming village of Broadclyst, near Exeter. The beautiful rural estate is one of the largest in the National Trust portfolio with 20 farms, over 200 cottages and 2,590 hectares of rolling hills and woodland.
The house was designed by John Johnson and was built in 1778 for the Acland family. It's well worth taking a tour when it is open during the summer.
Reduced entrance fees for Killerton's Snowdrops and Cyclamen
The house is actually closed to visitors in February, but the gardens and the park are open from 10am to 7pm daily. Reduced entrance fees apply during this time.
I always enjoy wandering around the beautiful hillside garden at any time of year. Some of the highlights to look out for as you explore the gardens at Killerton are the thatched Bear Hut, built as a summerhouse for Lydia Acland; the hexagonal basalt column actually brought back from the Giant's Causeway and the semi-hidden entrance to the Ice House in the rock garden.
For longer walks look for the semi-hidden pathways that lead to the top of Killerton Hill which has wonderful views. You can also bring bikes and explore further afield on the trails and lanes that are part of the Killerton estate.
Once you have enjoyed your bracing spring walk through the snowdrops and cyclamen, the Stables Café is the place to warm up. They serve excellent refreshments, cakes, tea and coffee and light lunches using fresh produce from the Killerton farms on the estate.
Have you enjoyed walks in the Killerton estate, perhaps enjoying the snowdrops and cyclamen? We'd love to hear your comments and recommendations for when is the best time to visit.