At last we have seen some welcome winter sunshine this week. What better way to enjoy it than with a trip to Cliveden, where the house and grounds have just re-opened to the public, in time to see the snowdrops in flower.
The snowdrops are mostly found on the west-facing side of the gardens, which sit on high ground on top of a steep west-facing escarpment that runs down to the edge of the River Thames.
Here we are looking up the slope towards the main house where you can make out the golden painted face of the clock-tower (which is, in fact, a water tower in disguise.)
Here's a better view of the tower glinting in the sunshine.
Every year, changes and improvements are made to the house and gardens. This year, much of the shrubbery which used to grow on the walls facing the parterre has been removed in order to repair the walls. This stubborn piece of jasmine remains, however, and seems to be growing straight out of the wall.
The walls look rather bare compared to what they used to, but I suppose this has been done for good reason. The flowerbed in the foreground, surrounding the statue of Prosperina, was new last year and is a great improvement over the plain box hedge that preceded it. It is full of wallflowers now, which will be a riot of colour and scent in a few weeks.
I can't wait to go again!