A WHITE carpet made up of a quarter of a million snowdrops is the refreshing sight visitors will see at Dunham Massey’s Winter Garden this half-term.

Damian Harris, Dunham’s head dardener, said: “We’ve planted 250,000 snowdrops - people don’t realise how important the humble snowdrop is: not only does it raise our spirits in the winter highlighting to us that winter is nearly over, but it also provides one of the earliest nectar sources for honey bees.

“We’ve also got 20,000 narcissi blooming amongst the trees which will add fantastic colour to the garden along with striking white-stemmed silver birches and bright dogwood barks all contrasting with the deeper surrounding evergreen foliage.”

Dunham’s seven-acre Winter Garden is the largest of its kind in the UK with almost 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs specifically bred for the garden.

“Following on from the snowdrops will be thousands of daffodils,” says Damian. “It really is the best time of the year to come and see the Winter Garden – and get some ideas for your own garden at home.”

As well as the Winter Garden, there is a lot to do at Dunham over half tem: a winter garden quiz, The Log Pile for scrambling over, a daily guided park tour at 1.30pm where you can learn more about Dunham and its estate – or you can download Dunham’s self-led Ancient Tree walk.

Andrew Wyllie, Dunham’s estate head ranger, said: “Dunham is regarded as one of the best sites for the number and variety of its veteran trees.

”Veteran trees are very important for the habitat they provide for animals, insects and fungi. The trees here are home to many rare insect species, such as the nationally scarce cobweb beetle (Megatoma undata) as well as beetle-eating bats such as the noctule.

“Winter is a great time to get out and see these ancient trees, some of which are over 300 years old. Download the walk at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunhammassey and click on ‘things to see and do.”

In the hall itself, staff are flat out gearing up for February 23 when the doors open and welcome visitors for the start of the new season.

On the first weekend of opening, and each weekend following you can meet three of Dunham’s Edwardian servants: you might come across Mr Hughes the butler, Mrs Collins the housekeeper or one of the housemaids busy at work!

Finally, don’t forget Dunham’s duck population who are hoping for lots of visitors during half-term and equally large amounts of duck food – which visitors can buy in Dunham’s shop!

Dunham Massey’s Winter Garden, shop and restaurant are open daily. Dunham Massey Hall opens for the new season on Saturday 23 February,11am.

Details at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunhammassey