The gardens and grounds of grand and historic properties like Scone Palace are the perfect place to see large and dramatic displays of snowdrops.
Some suggest the snowdrop was introduced to the British Isles from the Mediterranean during the times of the Roman occupation. Although there is evidence of a Roman camp within the designed landscape which surrounds the Palace, the experts are not convinced this theory to be true. With the plant first being recorded as growing freely in the wild in the late 18th century, it is more likely G. nivalis, our common snowdrop, was introduced from the 16th century.
By the time, the pleasure grounds around the Palace were being laid out to their current form in the early 1800’s, a late winter display of snowdrops would have been the height of desire and fashion.
One of the first areas to benefit from their cheerful display would have been what we call the ‘old drive’, this formal entrance lined with an avenue of Lime trees and leading through the archway to the Palace doors would have come into being from 1813 once the original village of Scone was moved to its new site.
As was originally designed to welcome home the family from their travels, today our visitors can experience how spectacular this beautiful site makes combined with the archway and Palace backdrop, when visiting the Palace as a finale to the guided ‘Snowdrop Trail’ which takes you around all the displays throughout the grounds.
The number of snowdrops that make up these displays would have multiplied over the years by the bulb creating offsets, which are new bulbs attached to the mother bulb. All the gardeners who would have helped tend the magnificent gardens and grounds during the past 220 years would regularly have lifted, split, and replanted congested clumps once finished flowering but still complete with green foliage.
This is a practise that the current garden team, made up of full-time gardeners and volunteers, still carry out today, replanting back into the ground which has been improved by the addition of leaf mould, approximately 15cm apart. This will ensure even more areas are covered with wonderful displays for the family and visitors to enjoy for the next 220 years and beyond.
The vast majority of snowdrops growing at Scone Palace will be of the common snowdrop with the largest displays being seen where original woodland walks would have taken you such as in the Friars Den- a valley with the meandering Catmoor burn running through as it makes its way to the Tay and near the Kitchen Garden. On the outer edges of the Palace grounds there is also a fine display of Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ which is a double snowdrop describing the flower within the flower that this plant has.
New pockets of different snowdrops are always being planted around the grounds as Lady Mansfield and her gardening team look to add to the variety of the collection. Tucked away in a corner is a planting of the pleated snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus which is slightly larger and is given its name due to the folding under of the leaf margin when young.
G. plicatus hails from the Crimea and found its way to our shores from soldiers returning back to work in the grounds of Scone Palace after the Crimean war in the 1850’s, who saw it covering the fields they were fighting on bringing home as gifts to their loved ones.
A natural hybrid has occurred between the two main snowdrops growing in the Palace grounds showing characteristics of both the common and pleated snowdrop and has been given the naming of Galanthus nivalis x plicatus ‘Scone Palace’.
Selections of snowdrops are available to buy from the Scone Palace Plants Nursery and can be purchased online via The Scone Palace website.