Britain in bloom (as spring is sprung earlier than ever)

A A A

Gardening enthusiasts could be forgiven for forgetting what month it is when they step outside in the morning, as carpets of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils – all traditional spring flowers – are in bloom across the country.

It has been a record-breaking spell for flowers, with many spring varieties opening their petals a full two weeks before the average time for the decade. The unseasonably warm and wet winter so far in Britain has coaxed plants into early flowering.

At Kew Gardens, where they have been measuring plant blooming times since the 1950s, horticulturalists have been staggered by how early some varieties have arrived this month.

The first daffodils opened at Kew on 16 January, a week earlier than 2007, and 11 days earlier than the average for this decade for that type of the flower. Crocuses also set a record at the gardens, flowering on 24 January, 11 days ahead of the decade average.

Sandra Bell, a horticulturalist at Kew who specialises in the effects of climate change on plants, said she was "really astonished" by how early the spring bulbs had flowered. "There's something odd going on this year. Even ash trees which normally flower in April are out. It's very peculiar."

Since the 1980s, plant blooming times have come forward at a steady pace, but according to Ms Bell, such a leap forward from year to year is "completely unprecedented".

"During the first five years of the 1980s [daffodils] would have opened on or around 12 February, but by the 2000s the average date they were opening was 27 January. In these 25 years the average date that they open has come forward 16 days, which is just amazing," Ms Bell said.

"But to move forward 11 [days] in one year is enough to knock you out. You don't expect the natural world to respond that quickly. This early spring period would have been what we called the middle of winter 10 years ago."

The outdoor gardens at the Eden Project in Cornwall have also reported unusually early flowerings of spring bulbs. Adrian Lovatt, a senior horticulturalist, said he had been amazed by the warmth of the winter, and had been expecting the early blooms. "It's the effect of the mild winter we've been having", he said. "We've had some varieties of daffodils coming almost a month earlier than usual. Many of our crocuses have also been in flower, and are roughly two weeks early".

At the Rococo Gardens in Painswick, Gloucestershire, the snowdrops are out a good two weeks early. Gardeners in the grounds of Painswick House say the flowers are not usually spotted until around Valentine's Day, but thousands could be seen in full bloom yesterday.

The gardens' director Paul Moir said: "The snowdrop responds to minute changes in light and ground temperature but this year it has suddenly become much warmer."

Rape fields dotted with blooming yellow flowers – a sight more normally associated with mid-summer – were even visible in Winchester, Hampshire.

And the recent mild weather has not only been affecting flowers. The UK Phenology Network has been receiving reports of unusually early frogspawn and tadpoles – a typical sign of the coming of spring.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retail Supervisor

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are lookin...

Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; Moorgate up to £23k

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Langley James : Desktop Support Analyst; 1st Line; ...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Sales Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fragrance store are looking for enthusias...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role ...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible