Tam's Tales

- Cambo Snowdrop Festival

Cambo - The Snowdrop Capital
I always feel that Valentine's Day marks the start of something quite separate from any affair of the heart. For me it is the time when we can say good-bye to the short days of the Scottish winter and start to enjoy a decent amount of daylight.

It also means that people can enjoy the Scottish snowdrop season and that leads to Cambo's famous snowdrop woods in Fife, about half way between St Andrews and the attractive town of Crail. Cambo is a leading light of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival which promotes other stunning displays of snowdrops in Scottish gardens and on estates.

The Cambo Estate has been in the possession of the Erskine family since the 1600s and snowdrops would originally have been planted in the grounds in the 18th century. Generations of the family have proved enthusiastic gardeners, splitting the clumps and increasing the display.

The woodlands surrounding Cambo House have many thousands of the plants from over 300 varieties which are proving to be a huge draw for people who enjoy the snowdrops in all their glory. The snowdrops, or to use their botanical name Galanthus, are complimented by snowflakes (Leucojum vernum - see on the left) and the beautiful yellow carpeting of winter aconites ( Eranthis hyemalis - see below).

Snowdrops by Starlight
I first visited Cambo two years ago and was impressed on my visit but in the intervening period there has been a substantial investment in the estate. This year "Snowdrops by Starlight" has been launched and the woodlands have been enhanced by lights and sound to be enjoyed at night - a wonderful, and possibly rather romantic experience. And for those who have missed this year's snowdrops, later in the year Cambo is launching its Tulip Festival at the end of April. It's one floral feast after another.

There was a lovely vibe to our visit, with a wide range of people from toddlers to grandparents enjoying a number of parts of the Cambo experience. I particularly liked the statues in the gardens which added to the atmosphere of the place.

The Cambo Courier

Cambo even has its own newspaper 'The Cambo Courier'. It is a cracking good read, ably edited by "G Nivalis", whose enthusiasm for the snowdrop knows no bounds. Here you learn of the estate's creative means of eradicating the never ending ivy which smothers the bulbs. The secret -Large White and Tamworth pigs (named Holly and Ivy) - which are popular with the visitors who can buy potatoes to feed to the pigs as a treat for them..

To mark the Snowdrop Festival, there is a Windows Media Slide Show. If it doesn't open your your browser, right click on the link and download it to your PC. Alternatively (and also if you have an Apple Mac machine), the video is also on Youtube.

When you complete the woodland walk the path brings you out at the Fife coastline which, at low tide, provides invigorating walks along the beach. When I was there, under a clear blue sky, there were impressive breakers coming in from the North Sea. Another fine spectacle.

Some Links

Tam O'Ranter
March 2010

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