Crocuses may be more colourful, daffodils more dazzling, but snowdrops hold a special place in the hearts of gardeners for being the first spring bulbs to appear. Hardy harbingers of the season to come, these pure little blooms dare to put on a show when temperatures keep most plants underground – and most flower fans curled up on the sofa.
Ahead of its official spring opening, London's oldest botanic garden unlocks its doors for nine days in winter each year to showcase its collection of snowdrops (Latin name Galanthus, meaning 'milk flower') at their peak.
Guided tours will highlight the huge variety of snowdrops out there – from the common snowdrop, G nivalis, to the large flowered, honey-scented G Sam Arnott – some so prized among galanthophiles that a single bulb can change hands for hundreds of pounds. No booking required, but check the Chelsea Physic Garden's website for details of the walks and talks taking place.