This year Altamont Gardens is holding its 21st Snowdrop Month, which runs from February 1st – 28th.
Altamont Gardens in County Carlow has the largest public snowdrop collection in Ireland, boasting 150 named varieties of this flower.
The snowdrop collection was started by Corona North, the former owner of Altamont Gardens, in the 1960s. She was given a present of a snowdrop called Drummond’s Giant and it was given to her by her neighbour, Mrs O’Neill. That started the collection about 60 years ago. So, she fell in love with the snowdrop. After that, she and her sister used to visit old, derelict gardens. They used to have a look and see if there was any snowdrop of interest. Having been further developed by the OPW over the last twenty years the collection is now amongst the largest in Ireland, with over 150 named varieties.
For example, at Altamont Gardens there are:
- Galanthus ‘Titania’ – one of a group of tall double hybrid snowdrops, called the Greatorex hybrids bred in the 1940’s. They all have the names of female characters from Shakespeare’s plays. A number of these can be seen growing in a woodland bed in Altamont, side by side, for comparison.
- A fine group of fine snowdrops, Galanthus ‘Natalie Garton’ in the Corona North Borders.
- Galanthus Gracilis -A species of snowdrop that grows in the wild in Greece, Bulgaria, and Western Turkey, flowering in January here in Altamont. It is very distinctive having narrow, grey leaves that twist and curve. Its flowers have three separate green marks on each inner petal: a broad stripe at the base and two tiny triangles at the tips.
- Galanthus ‘Castlegar’ – flowering in a woodland bed at Altamont. This Irish snowdrop hybrid was named in the 1990s by Dr. Kieth Lamb, who was a good friend of Corona North’s. Its value is that it is a strong, very early snowdrop, often at its best at Christmas and lasting till the end of January.
- Galanthus ‘Trumps’ – is one of the most popular and easily grown. It is named for its inverted green hearts, and not after the former U.S. President as many visitors have speculated.
- Galanthus ‘Spindlestone Surprise’ – not all snowdrops are white and green. There are an increasing number of named species and hybrids with yellow parts. This one is a strong grower, showing off its bright yellow round ovaries, and when the flowers open they show yellow marks on the inner petals.
Source: Altamont Gardens facebook page
I was delighted I could visit Altamont Garden during this amazing time.
Last year, lockdown restrictions meant only people in the immediate (within 5-10kms) area could visit Altamont.
Altamont Gardens is a 16-hectare estate and the best place to see Irish snowdrops. The gardens are open daily for general viewing from 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
There is also a charming Café in the Walled Garden worth to stop and have a coffee and cake from Sugar & Spice Bakery Bunclody.
Location of Altamont Gardens:
Below are photos I took in February 2022.