By Katy Johnston

HIDDEN in plain sight, the first sign of spring glistens through the snow sodden earth at RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve, Renfrewshire. Nestled only a few metres from the warmth of the visitor centre are constellations of budding Galanthus, coined ‘snowdrop’ for their delicate likeness to fallen snow. Forming in clusters by the reserve’s mossy banks these blossoming buds have reared their heads in tentative salute to the changing of the seasons.

Lochwinnoch warden Hannah Sharratt says: "I check on them most days. Their cheerful green and beautiful white represents a visible change that tells us winter is coming to a close."

These fabled blooms are set to transform the frosted landscape here at Lochwinnoch within the next few weeks, alongside countless other woodlands as the remnants of winter’s frost give way to these harbingers of springtime.

This year Discover Scottish Gardens is celebrating snowdrop season with its 12th annual festival. The Scottish Snowdrop Festival runs until March 11, across 60 gardens and nature reserves, as supported by Visit Scotland and Scotland’s Garden Scheme.

Home to tranquil waters, native wildlife, innumerable variations of visiting birds and, of course, hundreds of emerging snowdrops, Lochwinnoch is a must-see in early spring.

The centre has been open for over four decades and plays host to numerous events. The reserve encourages its visitors to engage with wildlife and organises explorer challenges for children and bird-watching for beginners all year round.

Ms Sharratt says the beauty of Lochwinnoch is that it's reachable from its railway station, only a few stops from Glasgow Central.

The snowdrops nestled by the waters of Lochwinnoch will soon bloom, expand and coat this already enchanting setting with a blanket of white and she is certain that this change will inspire people to get out and enjoy natural Scotland. She said: “People love snowdrops, they’re a universal symbol of springtime that we all just get. They really transform this place.”

Lochwinnoch is one of 60 gardens taking part in this year’s Snowdrop Festival which span thousands of acres across the length and breadth of the country. From woodlands to botanic gardens, castle ruins and nurseries, each promises a unique and enchanting glimpse at Scotland’s snowdrops in bloom. Here’s a run-down of some of the best places to see snowdrops this season. Start planning your trip now.

RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve, Largs Road, Lochwinnoch, 01505 842663

Cambo Estate, Fife

Cambo’s 70 acres host the national collection of snowdrops and boast over 300 variations within its grounds. The enchanting blooms create a blanket of white that runs from the estate’s woodland down to the sea shore. Free tours, from 1.30pm daily.

Cambo House, Kingsbarns, St Andrews, 01333 450313

Castle Kennedy Gardens, Dumfries and Galloway

Spanning 75 acres around the ruins of the castle, these gardens are a hidden treasure home to various species of snowdrop. Take in their beauty on a guided tour of this enchanting setting betwixt between the White and Black lochs. Open weekends between 10am-5pm.

Sheuchan, Stranraer, 01776 702024

Logan Botanic Gardens, Galloway

Logan gardens, which claims to be the ‘most exotic botanical spot' in Scotland, is transformed by a delicate dusting of snowdrops in early spring. The mini-paradise south of Stranraer sees zesty tropical plants brushed with clusters of snowdrops. Witness this unique botanic fusion for Snowdrop Sundays, 10am-4pm from February 4-15.

Port Logan, Nr. Stranraer, 01776 860231

Abriachan Garden Nursery, Loch Ness

Snug on the banks of Loch Ness, boasting an array of plant life, waterfalls and lush forestry by the shore, is the majestic Abriachan Garden Nursery. Explore the weaving paths amidst this enchanting woodland – counting snowdrops as you go – and be sure to snap a picture of the incredible views.

Kilianan, Loch Ness Side, Inverness, 01463 861232

Cringletie House, Scottish Borders

The magical woodlands surrounding Cringletie’s 28 acres shelter an ethereal waterfall and are rumoured to be home to a few fairies as well as snowdrops. Treat yourself to a scone in the cafe after a long day of fairy hunting.

Edinburgh Rd, Peebles, 01721 725750

Attadale Gardens, Wester Ross

Nestled in these impressive Highland gardens is Attadale House, home to a love stone engraved with the initials of its residents from 1755. Stroll through its vibrant grounds and observe the snowdrops on a Winter Walk for Valentine’s Day: a romantic outing akin to the love set in stone within the house itself.

Attadale Gardens, Strathcarron, 01520 722603

Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Central hub of all things snowdrop, Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is to host a range of events. Observe their extensive collection from 10am-5pm or take in one of their guided weekend snowdrop walks which kick off at 11am (£6 entry/under 16 free).

Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, 0131 2482909

Dunvegan Castle, Skye

Picturesque Dunvegan Castle is situated within the 42,000 acre MacLeod estate. Home to some of the most scenic views in the country, fairy pools, stunning landscapes and a host of enchanting snowdrops. Explore the historic conservation site between 10am and 5.30pm.

MacLeod Estate, Dunvegan House, Dunvegan, 01470 521206

Ardmaddy Castle, Oban

These gardens are carpeted with snowdrops throughout spring, making the spectacular Oban setting all the more out of this world. Enjoy a majestic woodland walk, explore the site’s famed walled garden and water ways. Open from dawn to dusk all year round.

Ardmaddy Castle Gardens By Oban Argyll, 01852 300353

Craigengillan Estate and Dark Sky Observatory – Ayr

Spy the snowdrops glinting on a walk around the atmospheric grounds of this 18th century Ayrshire estate as you wander through the gardens and expansive woodland.

62 Alloway St, Craigengillan, Ayr, 01292 551818

Tell us about your favourite snowdrop spot, write to The Herald, 200 Renfield, Glasgow, G2 3QB, email or use the contribution box below. 

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Some of the 350 varieties of snowdrop on show at Bruckhills Croft, Aberdeenshire

Some of the 350 varieties of snowdrop on show at Bruckhills Croft, Aberdeenshire
Community contributor

Snowdrops at Attadale Gardens, Wester Ross

Snowdrops at Attadale Gardens, Wester Ross
Community contributor
Snowdrops at Attadale Gardens, Wester Ross
Community contributor