The bad weather has delayed spring by up to four weeks but when it finally does arrive it will be a stunner, gardeners said yesterday.
Temperatures have been so low for so long that plants that usually start flowering in spring are holding back to avoid being damaged by the Arctic conditions.
But the number of botanical no-shows is stacking up and when spring does arrive, gardeners expect a riot of colour in their borders.
A survey by National Trust gardeners and volunteers has shown that flowering dates have been set back by up to a month, bucking a trend for the earlier flowering seen in recent years.
A national flower count has been carried out by the organisation since 2006 at its Devon and Cornwall properties, but this year it has also looked at its gardens in other parts of the country.
The survey revealed that some species appear to have put off flowering by up to a month and far fewer plants have managed to burst into bloom than this time last year.
Counts in 12 gardens in Devon and Cornwall revealed that only 1,115 varieties of plants have managed to produce flowers this year compared to 3,335 in the same places two years ago.
Ian Wright, a gardens adviser to the National Trust, said: "This year plants have been held back by around two to four weeks by the cold weather, but once it warms up everything will be blooming at once, rather than over a longer period of time, so we can expect a spectacular spring."
Richard Todd, head gardener at the National Trust's Anglesey Abbey in Lode, Cambridgeshire, said: "Once this latest cold snap has given up, it will all happen in a hurry as there are huge numbers of bulbs and winter flowering shrubs just waiting in the wings ready to go." At Anglesey the snowdrop season usually runs from 18 January to 21 February but it is two to three weeks late this year following almost six weeks of below-average temperatures. Consequently, some snowdrops are expected to still be in bloom in the abbey's garden in the middle of March.
Over the 30 years, according to experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, in south-west London, the date at which a host of plant species start flowering has advanced dramatically. Among them are wild daffodils, which have flowered 16 days earlier on average than they did in the 1980s, while snowdrops flowered 11 days sooner.Reuse content