The opportunity sprouted improbably in WhatsOnDorset, nestled against a barren winter landscape of beer markets and children’s theater. The venue was Kingston Lacy, a manor house outside of Bournemouth listed with the National Trust. The family home was built to resemble an Italian Villa, set into extensive parklands, so there was a chance of getting warm alongside romping through carpets of snowdrops.
The manor house was still closed, only the stables were open, but the snowdrops were lovely. The varieties could only be distinguished by lifting their heads: some complex, some simple inside. The challenge was to count how many: by my reckoning five on display?
The trails were red mud, the skies grey overcast. Nonetheless, we hiked the paths throughout, visiting the striking bamboo lines of the Japanese Garden (reminded me of Wolf Kahn pastels) and the distant, dormant Kitchen Gardens (children’s play area featuring tractors and wheelbarrows like a Chinese commune).
The café was all lemon drizzle cakes and hearty bean soups, teas and mulled wine. And, on leaving. there was a lacy potted snowdrop to take home, seeding a local snowdrift for spring.