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Positive signs that sales in garden centres are picking up
North American market is a great opportunity for British firms, says Gardenex director general
HTA Netherlands tour promises inspiration for retailers
Hozelock latest launches put users in the comfort zone
Scotland's snowdrops are popping their heads up early...
Pelargonium wins IPM's bedding award
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Scotland's snowdrops are popping their heads up early...

A number of the country's celebrated visitor attractions will take part in one of Scotland's most popular outdoor festivals for the first time this year.

Blossoming across the country from 28 January to 12 March, the Scottish Snowdrop Festival features more than 50 properties, including 14 newly added for 2017, showing off spectacular swathes of snowdrops carpeting their grounds.

There are 300 varieties of Galanthus - to give the snowdrop its botanical name - and the versatility and hardiness of the classic winter flowering plant means it grows in a great range of locations.

New attractions set to join some of Scotland's finest gardens, woodlands and estates for the festival this year include Fyvie Castle in Turriff, House of the Binns in Linlithgow and Castle Kennedy in Stranraer. 

The annual event, now in its 11th year, aims to encourage locals and tourists alike to enjoy the wonders of Scotland's gardens during the snowdrop flowering period and highlight the diversity of the country's array of snowdrop collections.

Supported annually by VisitScotland, the festival is being organised for the first time this year by garden tourism organisation Discover Scottish Gardens.

Research shows that one in three visitors to Scotland make a trip to a forest or woodland park during their stay while 42% visit a country park or garden.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: "Over the past decade the Scottish Snowdrop Festival has grown to become an annual calendar highlight with the first snowdrops of the year a sign that spring is just around the corner. 

"The festival provides a welcome boost for attractions during a traditionally quieter period of the year and we hope many people will be able to get out and about to enjoy this great seasonal sight around Scotland's most stunning gardens and estates."

Catherine Erskine, from Cambo Estate, Chair of Discover Scottish Gardens and founder of the Snowdrop Festival in Scotland, said: "We are very lucky in Scotland to have a fantastic climate for snowdrops, with many species thriving here and creating stunning displays. And this year, due to a mild winter, snowdrops are certainly popping their heads out earlier than they have for many years." 

New participants taking part in the Scottish Snowdrop Festival for the first time are:

* Brodie Castle, Forres, Morayshire

* RSPB Loch Garten, Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire

* Fyvie Castle, Fyvie, Turriff, Aberdeenshire

* Braco Castle, Braco, Perthshire

* Fingask Castle, Rait, Perthshire

* Kilbryde Castle, Dunblane, Perthshire

* Langley Park, Montrose, Angus

* Dunninald Castle, Montrose, Angus

* Maolachy's Garden, Lochavich, by Taynuilt, Argyll

*         New Hopetouns Gardens, by Newton Village, Broxburn, West Lothian

* House of the Binns, Linlithgow, West Lothian

* Newhailes Estate, Musselburgh, East Lothian

* Castle Kennedy, Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway

* Brooklands, Crocketford, Dumfries & Galloway

Nearly half the participants are opening their gardens to raise money for national charity organisation Scotland's Gardens.

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