Garden of the Season – Cambo GardensFebruary 7th 2023
Why should we visit?
This weekend marks the start of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, the annual celebration of the season’s most iconic flower. Cambo House is where the Festival first started more than a decade ago and today the estate still has some of the finest snowdrop displays in the country as well as an extensive collection of specialist varieties. These can be found amongst the beautifully-designed gardens and mature woodlands that stretch down to the coast.
Story of the Garden
There has been a garden at Cambo since the early 19th century, but it is the snowdrops that put it on the map. Generations of the Erskine family carefully tended the snowdrops in their woodlands, lifting and dividing the bulbs and then replanting them, until the flowers formed dense carpets. Catherine Erskine then began collecting specialist varieties and Cambo became renowned amongst ‘galanthophiles’ (snowdrop lovers) for its rare bulbs, including completely white snowdrops and those with yellow instead of green markings.
Just strolling through woodlands carpeted in these small flowers, which give off a delicate honey scent when grown en-masse, is enough to delight most visitors, but Cambo also has many activities lined up during this year’s Festival, including a Snow Moon Walk on the evening of Sunday, 5 February; regular insight tours; children’s activities and, on Tuesday, 28 February, a talk by one of Scotland’s leading snowdrop experts, Jim Jermyn.
The paths that lead through Cambo’s woodland to the magnificent Kingsbarns Beach are lined with snowdrops but Cambo also has exceptional gardens including a walled garden with contemporary plantings that is considered to be one of the best of its kind in the country. Even in February, seedheads, stems and grasses make this a memorable space to visit, just before the appearance of fresh growth that will create this year’s flowers and foliage.
Anything else to look out for?
In recent years Cambo has been developed as a charitable trust, providing volunteering opportunities, hosting schools and developing a renowned cafe serving vegan and vegetarian food. There is an exhibition space too and children’s play areas that are designed to connect young visitors with nature, as well as 70 acres of woodland to explore.
Best Time to Visit
Cambo is worth visiting at any time of the year, from high summer when the massed herbaceous plantings are at their best, and again in autumn when the trees take on their spectacular colours. However Cambo’s reputation as a snowdrop garden is unrivalled and many visitors return year after year to enjoy the spectacle and buy snowdrops ‘in the green’ to plant in their own gardens at home. Collectors also come to see some of the estate’s 200 specialist snowdrop varieties while they are in flower.
Any Recommendations in the Area
Kingsbarns Beach is a two mile stretch of golden sand, backed by an extensive system of sand dunes. The dunes and shoreline are home to a wide number of coastal and wading birds and the waters are favoured by surfers.
Cambo is situated between Kingsbarns and Crail on the A917 south of St Andrews.
The gardens are open daily from 10am - 4pm.
Tickets: £8.25/u16s and carers free
T: 01333 451040
Courtesy of The Herald