We spent the weekend in a wet, sleety and snowy Norfolk. Looking at the weather forecast before we left I chose to leave my bike at home, and I think that was the right move as I'm not sure I would have gone out on it and if MOH had persuaded me then I think I'd've got very cold, very quickly. So without a bike ride to do, we needed something else to do on the Saturday.
We'd been meaning to drive over to Reepham to visit the Panther Brewery for a while, and looking on the map I realised the Blickling Estate was relatively close by, so a plan was quickly formed. When I realised they had snowdrops, the plan was firmed up and we were in the car and heading east in the grey, murky day.
We'd been to Blickling a few years before, in March 2014 in fact, and looking back it's amazing to see the difference a month makes. Before we could look for snowdrops, I had to stop and marvel at the bare, but gnarly wisteria. And wonder if a quicker-than-before return visit around May could be managed. I'm sure it will look magnificent in full flower, don't you think?
They have a bit of project going on in the walled kitchen garden, and so keen for a bit of walled garden we set off to take a look. I didn't remember it from our last visit, and it turns out that's because it was all grassed over, but since 2015 they've been working on it, along with plenty of volunteers. The difference is amazing, and I'm thinking I could do with the same army of volunteers to help tame my allotment.
I was so keen to see what was going on there - I'll share more from there another day - that I marched straight past (but not through) these little beauties nestled under one of the magnolia trees.
Snowdrops always amaze me.
They look so delicate, but clearly are made from hardier stuff, as they'd have to be making their appearance at this time of year. The ones at Blickling have a little way to go before they're fully out, so if you're heading there in the next few weeks you could be lucky and see them in their full splendour. If you're in Norfolk and looking for somewhere else to see snowdrops then Walsingham Abbey have a lot, I hear. The Norfolk Mag has a useful article of the 9 best places to see snowdrops in Norfolk, which is well worth a read.
Wisteria and magnolias, Blickling really does deserve another visit. This magnolia looks like it's going to have plenty of flowers in a couple of months, let's hope the weather doesn't trick it.
After exploring the walled kitchen garden we headed across the formal gardens and up to the Temple, mainly because I love the idea of having a room far away from the house just to take afternoon tea in. The daffodils which we saw on our March 2014 visit were already growing and there was an odd one or two in bud, but they've a little while yet before they flourish into a yellow carpet.
Next up we headed towards the Orangery, this time I wasn't able to replicate the reflective photo from before but we did have a peek in. There were plenty of citrus plants, but not too many fruits. I'm pleased with the photo below taken through the glass, I discovered that by having my phone right up against the glass, and with some careful positioning around the condensation on the inside of the glass I was able to take some pretty clear shots.
Around the back of the Orangery there were more snowdrops and some beautiful yellow hellebores, which were stunning, as were the faded hydrangeas, alongside some fiery dogwood stems, which I'm also saving for another day.
As we headed back towards the house and the formal garden, I couldn't help but stop and admire the new growth of this bush, with its lush green stems seemingly making a bolt for the light. I'm not sure how long it'll survive though, as, ssshh, all the bushes around it had been given quite a crop. This one almost had a rebellious and relieved smile about it.
With the house now in view, it's easy to see just how impressive Blicklings grounds are, and once again we'd only scratched the surface of it. But it was February, and pretty bleak at that, and so exploring further afield would have to wait until the weather warms up.