Spring flowers: 10 of the best places in the UK to see them bloom

Dartington, Devon

The gardening team of this estate near Totnes takes the first few months of the year seriously: spidery yellow witch hazel flowers and snowdrops are the precursor to daffodils and bluebells. Trails allow everyone to explore the 800 acres (Tramper mobility scooters can be arranged). There’s accommodation at different price levels, too, including hostel rooms and those in the original 14th-century building. Dartington does things a bit differently. When most gardens do light shows in winter, Dartington has one based on Alice in Wonderland, running from 8 March to 3 April. Food choices range from pub grub to bagels baked on the estate.
B&B doubles from £129;

Chippenham Park, Cambridgeshire

Photograph: Zara Napier

Few gardens in East Anglia do spring as well as Chippenham Park near Newmarket, with 40 acres of gardens open until 29 March. Starting with snowdrops and aconites before hellebores and daffodils take over in a series of landscapes that include lakes, canals and woodland walks, it all rounds off with an Easter egg hunt. The former potting sheds have just become rather nice accommodation, while there’s a tea room when the gardens are open, with soups, cakes and – should the weather warm up – chilled rosé wine.
Room-only doubles from £150;

Wallington, Northumberland

Photograph: David Whinham/Alamy

Over the past two years, hundreds of volunteers have planted snowdrops at Wallington, including the Northumbrian Sandersii snowdrops with yellow rather than green markings. This National Trust estate near Morpeth now has a sea of around 900,000 snowdrops to enjoy as they carpet woodland, while later in the spring the grounds will be transformed by crocuses and daffodils. In nearby Whalton, the Beresford Arms is a nice pub with rooms, which is also near Bolam Lake Country Park.
B&B doubles from £110;; and

Cambo Estate, Fife

Generations of the Erskine family have planted snowdrops here, just outside St Andrews. The annual show lasts well into March, and some of the walking trails are suitable for the mobility-impaired. There’s live music on some evenings, as well as night walks and warming food. Include a visit when walking the coastal trail from either St Andrews or Crail – other spring flowers are visible en route. In the nearby village, the Inn at Kingsbarns has five bedrooms and, in the Scranhoose, a restaurant with cheery home-made food.
B&B doubles from £120; and

Lang Craigs, Dunbartonshire

Twelve miles from Glasgow in the Kilpatrick Hills, Lang Craigs offers bulb-appreciation for purists, with no cafés or shops for distraction (although there are a few benches where you can sit and bring out your Thermos of tea). There are four walking trails and the snowdrops and bluebells are augmented by (if you’re lucky enough to spot them) otters, cuckoos and woodpeckers and, as twilight settles, tawny owls. All a 30-minute drive from the food-focused, urbane charms of the Hotel du Vin in Glasgow’s West End.
Room-only doubles from £116;; and

Castle Ward, County Down

Photograph: Jonathan Need/Alamy

Along with the legions of Game of Thrones fans on a quest to find their Winterfell, bulb-spotters come to see how spring unfurls through the woodland and terraces and around this National Trust property. Part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, daffodils have colonised the area around the mansion, but wait a bit later and there are nearly five miles of bluebell trails to enjoy here. The newly renovated Cuan is a gastropub on the mouth of Strangford Lough with nine comfortable rooms.
B&B doubles from £119,; and

Caldbeck, Lake District

Every pretty Lake District village – especially those associated with Wordsworth – will have a healthy showing of daffodils in spring, but Caldbeck, at the top of Cumbria near Hadrian’s Wall, doesn’t get crowded and has good tea room and pub provision, including Oddfellows, run by the Whitesmith family, that has 12 rooms and an all-day bar with local Jennings ale. All of which will power you for walks around the fells and to the ruins of a bobbin mill at Howk while Watersmeet is a top place for bluebells, usually in March and April.
B&B doubles from £125;

Bodnant Garden, Conwy

Photograph: Getty Images.

The daffodils at this – one of the National Trust’s most important gardens in Wales – are usually in full flow by St David’s Day on 1 March. They’ve been planted here for more than 100 years; a process that’s still going today with both fully grown and dwarf varieties. Daffodil season here lasts from February into April, when bluebells and magnolia trees herald the next progression of spring. Just across the Conwy river, the Groes Inn allows you to explore Bodnant and other nearby walks.
&B doubles from £105,;

Chawton, Hampshire

Jane Austen didn’t write about daffodils, but she would have seen them at her home in Hampshire. Close to the cottage where she lived and Chawton House where her brother and family were in situ are some of England’s most gently improving spring walks, including one interspersed with quotes from Austen’s works. Chawton House has a tea room (which might have met with the author’s approval) and a new tea shed for takeaways (which might not). The weatherboarded Anchor Inn in Lower Froyle, a 10-minute drive away on the edge of the South Downs, has board games, bloody Marys and timeless views over meadows and farmland.
B&B doubles £110,; and

Kew Gardens, London

Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When the rest of the gardens at Kew are dormant, snowdrops start the rush to spring by poking their heads above ground. Across Kew’s 300 acres, you’ll find them clustered around trees and lawns, while daffodils are centred around the Great Broad Walk and the Temple Aeolus, and bluebells bloom across the woodland floors. Another bonus of Kew: there are plenty of conservatories and cafés to drop into when you need warming up. Kew needs at least a day, preferably two, to appreciate it all fully. The Orange Tree is a stately pub with rooms that’s a short walk from Kew’s entrance.
B&B doubles from £139;; and


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