Britain in bloom - when it's not meant to be

Click to follow

Trengwainton, eight miles from Land's End, enjoys perhaps the most favourable gardening conditions in mainland Britain.

In Cornish it means the "settlement of spring" in honour of the temperate climate with which it is blessed. But even by these standards, the spring of 2007 is proving exceptionally fecund.

With two weeks of winter officially still to run, the gardens of the National Trust house in the west of Cornwall are a riot of colour after one of the warmest winters on record.

Gardeners at Trengwainton House taking part in a survey by the trust across Devon and Cornwall recorded 426 varieties in flower, nearly twice the number as at this time last year. The gardens' Magnolias, Camelias and Rhododendrons have already sprouted while the South African bottle brush is exhibiting its spiny red blooms three months ahead of schedule.

But the warm winter has thrown up some unexpected difficulties for the gardening team. Lawns have had to be mowed all year round for the first time and the machinery has struggled to cope with the volume of grass. Other plants such as the garden's varieties of Hydrangeas have also not stopped growing.

It was a similar story across the South-west. In Devon, hundreds more varieties were logged. The National Trust believes the 93 per cent increase in flower varieties it found showed that an earlier and warmer spring has arrived. The variety of flowers has convinced them to start opening many of their gardens.

Ian Wright, the head gardener at Trengwainton, conceded the survey was more anecdotal than rigorously scientific but the findings reinforced what many horticulturalists have been observing. "We have only seen one significant frost over the winter and spring is already here," he said.

According to the Met Office this winter, of 2006/7, looks set to be one of the mildest on record.

Already flowering

* Primula vulgaris: the primrose, a perennial spring flower, is a much-loved harbinger of the warmer weather. Often found in woodland

* Callsitemon citrinus: Bottle brush are dense cylindrical flowers carried on the end of willowy branches. It was introduced from South Africa plant and flourishes in the heat

* Clianthus puniceus: The lobster claw or parrot's bill, from New Zealand, usually grows against a wall

* Tibouchina urvilleana: Glory bush comes from Brazil and requires greenhouse conditions in the UK. It is in bloom in Antony and Glendurgan in Cornwall.