Fair maids of February
PUBLISHED: 13:39 21 January 2008 | UPDATED: 15:00 20 February 2013
Warm up with a walk around Broadview Gardens at Hadlow College, as carpets of snowdrops and hellebores herald the spring
A sure sign that spring is just around the corner is the sight of the nodding heads of snowdrops emerging from the undergrowth. From January to March, these hardy beauties appear in drifts under trees and on grassy banks. Adding a valuable splash of colour at the same time are dainty hellebores, with their pretty faces just asking to be turned up and admired.
Broadview Gardens, near Tonbridge, a unique garden designed as a teaching resource for the students of Hadlow College, holds a National Collection of Hellebores and celebrates this time of the year with special snowdrop and hellebore days in February.
Wide borders are planted with many varieties of snowdrops and hellebores, forming a carpet of interest under the polished bark of cherries and offset by fiery cornus stems. The low winter sunlight adds a gleaming sheen to the scene as it catches on the translucent hellebore petals or highlights the rich stems and bark.
Snowdrops and hellebores form a carpet of interest under the polished bark of cherries
The eight acres of garden are open all year, with some permanent areas and others that change to showcase students' work. A 100-metre long double border, backed with clipped yew hedges, forms a central axis from which grass avenues lead to a series of enclosed garden rooms.
The students have created both large and small, contemporary and traditional gardens, including The Grasses Garden, The Oriental Garden, The Sub-tropical Garden and The Italian Garden. As you wander around, it is hard to believe that only six years ago this area was an open field grazed by sheep.
A mix of both familiar and unusual plants has been used and there is something of interest throughout the year. After the focus on hellebores and snowdrops, spring is vibrant with tulips, crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils in formal bedding with pansies and wallflowers.
Summer sees the surge of brightly coloured borders, with many plants chosen for their drought-tolerant qualities. As the season progresses into autumn, the show is maintained with cannas, dahlias and additional bedding.
Asters, grasses and chrysanthemums, along with foliage hues, take the garden into winter with its subtle dried seed heads, berries and coloured stems. Along with the plantings there is a focus on hard landscaping, sculpture, seating and innovative ideas that will stimulate ideas for your own garden.
Gardens, Tea Rooms and Garden Centre open all year round.
Mon to Sat 10am to 5pm, Sun 10am to 4pm
Snowdrops and Hellebore Days
17, 21, 23, 24 Feb
1 and 2 Mar
Guided tours at 11 am and 2 pm
£2 per person to walk around on own, £3 for tour