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Belsay Hall in Winter

In winter the landscape appears stripped back, revealing Belsay's winter finery and showing off the underlying design of the 30-acre garden.

View of Belsay Castle with deep snow

The Castle and the Jacobean domestic wing in snow

In the crisp frost and low sunshine, the formal beds on the Terraces look sharp and symmetrical, filled with the strongly-scented flowering Christmas box ( Sarcococca confusa). In milder spells, viburnums and winter flowering iris add a dash of colour to these gardens.

From November, pinkish red rhododendrons burst into flower in the Quarry Garden, with a large Chusan palm planted by Sir Charles Monck adding a taste of the exotic among the ice and snow.

The shapes, textures and colour of the many conifers stand out against large variegated and yellow-berried hollies and cloud shaped box. A 92ft Douglas fir planted in the 1830's towers above the garden.

Snowdrops with Belsay Castle beyond

Snowdrops with the castle beyond
© Graeme Peacock

Spectacular Snowdrops

The humble snowdrop provides the most magical spectacle around Belsay. From the early 18th century, it became a tradition for the ladies of the house to plant many thousands of bulbs. In the depths of winter, they create a vast white carpet.

Records show that the first snowdrops were planted at Belsay in the 1700s by Lady Anne Middleton, which began a tradition of the Lady of successive Baronets planting snowdrops in the garden, fields and woodland surrounding Belsay Hall. 

This has resulted in many thousands of snowdrops that visitors today can see during February and early March, which give a spectacular display in the quarry garden and woodland floor.

Along with the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, the double flowered species of Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' can be seen. The taller Galanthus 'Sam Arnott' can be found in the Winter Garden.