A Preview.

Altamont for snowdrops has become an annual visit not to be missed. We usually visit in early February as this is generally when the greatest number of snowdrops are in flower. The snowdrop season can stretch from October until March but the greatest selection is open in February and this has dictated the timing of the annual Snowdrop Week at Altamont Gardens and of the associated Snowdrop Gala. As an aside, the Snowdrop Week at Altamont Gardens has been such a success over past years that it has now been extended to become a Snowdrop Month!

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The largest selection of snowdrops are planted in the rose beds to the rear of the house

There are very few gardens in Ireland with a snowdrop collection as extensive as that at Altamont, something attributable to Paul Cutler who is the head gardener there and a snowdrop enthusiast for many years. He has built up the range of snowdrops over many years and continues to grow and maintain them to a high standard. Paul gives guided tours of the collection during the snowdrop event and will share the duties this year with Robert Millar who will do the Saturday tours. Robert is the proprietor of Altamont Plants, based in the walled garden at Altamont, and the organiser, along with Hestor Forde, of the annual Snowdrop Gala – based this year at the Mount Wolseley Hotel in Tullow, Co. Carlow.

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The iconic yew arches, box hedges and generous snowdrop plantings at Altamont

The gala offers attendees talks from two speakers – Ian Christie, a highly respected and well-established nurseryman who specialises in alpine and woodland plants and who has a particular interest in snowdrops. His introduction, Galanthus woronowii ‘Elizabeth Harrison’ a beautiful yellow-marked snowdrop created headlines as it was auctioned and achieved the highest price for a snowdrop to that date. It is only one of many interesting snowdrops he has introduced. Ian Young is best known for his weekly Bulb Log, a blog he has written for many years and which is a wonderful source of information and observation of growing bulbs under cover and in the open garden. Both are from Scotland. After the talks there is a tour of Altamont Gardens and the opportunity to purchase from the interesting selection of snowdrops on offer from the attending nurseries – Avon Bulbs being the biggest nursery attending.

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A path leading into a woodland section of the garden where, again, there are generous plantings of snowdrops

The gala is on Saturday, 2nd of February, and there is a talk on the Friday evening, a joint presentation by Paul Cutler and Assumpta Broomfield – “A Celebration of Corona North” to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. Corona North was the owner of Altamont Garden who passed the garden and house on to the state. This talk is open to the public and will also be at the Mount Wolseley Hotel.

Altamont has something for everybody and our grandson had great fun walking around the pond, chatting to the ducks and playing hide and seek with his grandad.

Circumstances seem set to prevent my being at Altamont for the snowdrop tours this year so, at the drop of a hat, we headed off to Altamont today and were delighted to see the gardens looking so well and can assure readers that there is a treat in store for anybody who visits. Altamont Plants is, likewise, gearing up for the occasion with an excellent stock of plants being put on display today. Altamont has the wonderful advantage of having an excellent garden and an outstanding plant centre – perfect ingredients for a great gardener’s day out.

A slideshow of images from today’s visit:


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Further information:

5 thoughts on “A Preview.

  1. A lovely plug for the event and well merited. I am hoping to get to the talk on Corona North and also to do the gala on the Saturday. This blog has whetted my appetite! Havent been able as yet to get out into tidying up my own garden but hope to do so next week.. My snowddrops are beginning to grow strongly at present and I am so looking forward to their beauty in full bloom. I hope ye did not pass our gate on the way!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We plan to be at the Corona North talk as well, Peter – if nothing intervenes! See you there. We won’t be at the gala.


  2. Hi Paddy Thanks for your recent blog
    Lovely photos , I find the Irish snowdrops fascinating and the stories behind them so interesting. I do have Brenda Troyle but was unlucky enough to lose Straffan.
    I will look up Ian Young and his bulb log . Looks like hours of happy reading there !!

    Liked by 1 person

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