Where to see spring's daffodils in Hertfordshire
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Inspired by William Wordsworth’s well-loved poem, Philippa Pearson seeks out the best places to enjoy daffodils in Hertfordshire this spring...
March, as the poet William Wordsworth so eloquently put it in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, is the time for daffodils.
"When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze"
The inspiration for the poem, written in 1804, came from a walk Wordsworth took with his sister Dorothy around Glencoyne Bay at Ullswater in the Lake District, where they came across a blooming mass of Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the daffodil native to the area.
Luckily, you don’t have to travel too far to see your own host of daffodils as there are splendid gardens in Hertfordshire open to view these cheery plants. Here's three of the best places in the county to catch these springtime flowers
1. Hatfield House, Hatfield
The West Garden at Hatfield House with its pleached lime walk was designed in 1902.
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A massive yew hedge has a wonderful display of daffodils and other spring bulbs beside it, with geraniums, iris, shrubs, herbaceous plants, roses and annuals following on.
But it’s the adjoining Woodland Garden where you will see delightful swathes of naturalised daffodils in bloom. A magnificent sight and feast for the eyes, the daffodils have spread over the years and cover the ground.
It’s also well worthwhile walking down through the mature beech and oak trees and see what else is, or will soon be in bloom in the Woodland Garden as there is a growing collection of magnolias, camellias, Prunus, Sorbus and Malus alongside the paths.
Nineteenth century rhododendrons still survive, and there are flowering shrubs like Styrax, Eucryphia Hoheria and Halesia as well as a magnificent hydrangea walk where many varieties of Hydrangea Paniculata line the grass paths. The 2022 season begins on April 2.
Dates: Open for the National Garden Scheme on Saturday March 19; 11am-4pm
Address: Hatfield House, Hatfield AL9 5NQ
Tickets: £11/£4 adult/children
2. Walkern Hall, Walkern
Known for its snowdrops, and open each year for visitors to admire, Walkern Hall is essentially a winter woodland garden.
Set in parkland in an elevated position on the edge of Walkern village, this eight-acre medieval hunting park is known more for its established trees such as the tulip trees and a magnificent London plane tree which dominates the garden.
After the snowdrops and other winter bulbs have finished flowering, naturalised daffodils take over the stage in the woodland area. An old orchard has drifts of daffodils, while near the house an established magnolia makes a strong focal point and begins to open its delicate flower buds in warm spring sunshine.
For the NGS event, homemade teas , soup and cakes will be available in support of the village church.
Dates: Open for the NGS on Saturday and Sunday March 26-27 from midday to 5pm
Tickets: £5 adults
Address: Walkern Hall, Walkern near Stevenage SG2 7JA
3. Amwell Cottage, Wheathampstead
Near Wheathampstead, Amwell Cottage is an informal two-and-a -half-acre garden with an orchard of mature apples, plums and pear laid out with mown paths through long grass which wander past the gnarled fruit trees.
The long grass has naturalised plantings of daffodils followed by cow parsley when the fruit blossom is out.
The extensive lawns with borders, framed by tall yew hedges and old brick walls have a large variety of roses and perennials, while elsewhere there are seats with views and a woodland pond.
Homemade teas available in support of Hope & Homes for Children.
Dates: Open for the NGS on Sunday March 27 from 2-5pm
Tickets: £5/free adult/children
Address: Amwell Cottage, Amwell Lane, Wheathampstead AL4 8EA
All tickets can be purchase in advance from the NGS website, ngs.org.uk but it is not essential.