NEW VARIETIES of snowdrops are rare but three have been discovered in the grounds of East Lambrook Manor in Somerset in recent years.

The 15th century manor house near south Petherton was once the home of gardening icon Margery Fish who, through her plantings and writings, made snowdrops popular.

She introduced nearly 100 different varieties to East Lambrook whose gardens have one of the most important collections of this plant in the country. The gardens have a Grade 1 listing (the house is Grade II).

The present owners, Marianne and Robert Williams, have made the gardens a Mecca for snowdrop enthusiasts over the last five years. To supplement the natural plantings, they have created a unique raised bed of snowdrops where many varieties, including rarities, are displayed and labelled.

They include two new ones recently found in the gardens, Galanthus “Dodo Norton” and “Lambrook Greensleeves”.

“There are so many snowdrops that they now hybridise naturally. We hope to name another one in 2006,” says Marianne.

When they have finished flowering this spring, they are to be dug up and stored to allow their woodland setting to be renovated. Identifying, labelling, lifting and potting will be a painstaking process so they can be replanted in precisely the same locations in the autumn.

And tomorrow (Feb 5) – at the time when the bulbs are traditionally at their best – the venue is hosting a Snowdrop Study Day with Chris Brickell, a former director general of the Royal Horticultural Society, Rod Leeds, chairman of the RHS joint rock garden and plant committee, and Trevor Wiltshire, superintendent of the rock garden at Wisley.

Tickets cost 45, which includes lunch and tea. Tel 01460 240 328.