Is spring 2011 early?

The National Trust’s annual flower count suggests that spring 2011 may be breaking earlier than last.

They have noted a 17 per cent increase in the number of flowering plants in the National Trust gardens.

Crocus at St Michael's, Carlisle

Crocus at St Michael's, Carlisle

Snow last January delayed the arrival of spring in 2010 but, despite the coldest December for a century, National Trust gardens all over the country are already beginning to burst into life.

The Trust’s annual Valentine’s Day flower count has been conducted by gardeners and volunteers in Devon and Cornwall each February since 2006.

This year, 1,395 plants were recorded in 16 gardens in Devon and Cornwall compared to just 1,115 last year – an increase of 25 per cent.  In 2008 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded, marking the earliest spring so far recorded.

National Trust gardeners say that this winter’s freezing temperatures hit at a time when flower buds were at their tightest, giving plants the most protection to make a good recovery when temperatures started to rise.

Killerton in Devon had the highest number of flowers recorded, with 200 blooms, while Glendurgan in Cornwall saw the biggest increase in blooms, 149 (up from 45 in 2010).  This leap in numbers is largely due to its location in a mild Cornish valley which helps drain cold air out to sea allowing the upper slopes to warm up quickly, promoting earlier flowering.

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