Benington Lordship is a private house and garden in the pretty village of Benington, near Stevenage in Hertfordshire. The garden opens to the public several times each year, but it is famous for its winter displays of naturalised snowdrops.
What sets Benington Lordship apart are the ruins of a Norman castle and keep, around which snowdrops appear in large drifts.
A path takes you along the former moat from which steep banks of snowdrops rise up. The overall effect is quite magical.
Two areas are planted formally, but most of the garden feels quite natural and gives views across a small lake to the rolling hills of the local countryside. The design of the garden feels intimate and encourages you to explore its winding paths, but it is spread over seven acres and is spacious enough not to feel crowded despite numerous visitors.
In addition to the snowdrops there are large drifts of Scilla, which must have been flowering early because of the mild winter. The leaflet says it is Scilla byzantica, but I can’t find a Scilla of this name and wonder of it might also be known as Scilla bithynica, the Turkish squill. Whatever the name, the effect was very lovely and I will definitely be seeking out this bulb for my own garden.
Alongside a walled kitchen garden, which doesn’t hold much interest in winter, runs a long, sloping, double herbaceous border. The shoots of perennials were beginning to emerge and, having seen photographs of the summer display, I will be making a return visit to see the transformation.
At the top of the herbaceous border is an area planted with a collection of 250 rare snowdrop varieties, safely behind a wire fence out of reach. Each variety is clearly labelled and displaying them in this way enables you to play a game of spot the difference. I didn’t stay too long here as I could feel the start of galanthomania coming on.
I saw one large and impressive grouping of hellebores, but on their own they did not justify a visit. If you like castles and snowdrops and winding paths then I recommend a visit to Benington Lordship, preferably on a sunny day when it is most enchanting.
Bennington Lordship, Hertfordshire, UK