The Snowdrop has been voted the top spring flower in the South West, with the gardens at Cotehele, Stourhead and Killerton being the most popular places to see spring blooms.
This year’s milder, calmer and less wet winter compared with 2014 has been much kinder on our garden plants as gardeners have been finding out while taking part in the Trust’s annual Valentines Flower Count.
Although National Trust gardeners get a touch jittery when you the mention the dreaded words, frost and snow, words that should never be uttered in front of spring blooms Spring really is ready to spring, says our gardeners but it’s just pausing for breath thanks to the recent cold snap.
After a long winter, it’s now the perfect time to get outdoors to spot those signs in our gardens across the south west.
In the far West we’ve been enjoying Camellia’s in flower since November but plants like snowdrops and aconites won’t now stop just because a bit of snow and ice comes along from time to time.
Ian Wright, National Trust Gardens Advisor in the South West said: ‘Spring is my favourite time of year, it’s a time to get back in touch with plants and enjoy this free annual spectacular played out over several heady weeks, you can almost map the progress of spring as it travels from West to East/ South to North by way of the flowers in our gardens. I would thoroughly recommend getting out there and reaffirming your senses with ‘all things nature’ Check how you feel lifted after spotting your first swath of daffodils a magnolia, flower set against a crisp blue sky ,
‘Building on the success last year and for the second year running we’ve asked our supporters to get involved in our very own blooming garden watch and tell us what they have in flower in their garden, we’re hoping this becomes an annual spring must do.
Gardeners at 25 National Trust properties across the South West took part in the annual Valentine’s Day flower count which first started in Devon and Cornwall in 2006.
Gardens in the South West are usually the furthest advanced in the UK with early spring blooms and, this year, thanks to the relatively mild and calm weather, we’ve seen a total of 158 more blooms across the South West an increase of 17%.
Tommy Teagle, Lanhydrock Head Gardener said: ‘We’ve have 146 plants in flower this year, over 100 of the plants in flower are Camellias and the Daphne is smelling superb! Overall there is a plethora of buds on the plants and it promises to be a colourful spring provided the weather is good.
Simon Akeroyd, Head Gardner for Coleton Fishacre said: ‘We’re very lucky at Coleton Fishacre as we rarely have a frost, meaning we have a longer season of interest than other gardens. We’ve had a very mild autumn and early winter and this has meant that many of our plants at Coleton have been earlier than usual. We had paper-white narcissus flowering in late November and some of the traditional trumpet daffodil varieties were flowering a couple of weeks before Christmas.
John Lanyon, Head Gardener at Glendurgan said: ‘This year we’ve counted 73 blooms compared to 98 last year, but this present cold weather is obviously having a fascinating effect on what was before that the earliest season I could say I have observed. As usual it is a set of weather patterns that stimulated things to start growing. The cold now is basically slowing everything down.’
For the second year running we’ve been asking our supporters about spring flowers in their own gardens at the moment, with the snowdrop coming out top followed by the primrose.
In Cornwall 545 blooms were counted compared to 554 in 2014. In Devon there were 800 blooms this year compared to 651 in 2014.
Comparing the number of plants across our gardens on a set day every year gives us a real insight into how our gardens respond to weather patterns, and is a useful ‘barometer’ for the season ahead’, said Ian.
This year 1,345 plants were recorded in 18 gardens in Devon and Cornwall compared to 1,205 in 18 gardens in 2014. In 2008 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded, marking the earliest spring so far recorded. 1,622 plants were recorded in gardens across the whole of the South West this year compared 1,454 in 2014.
The highest numbers of flowers recorded in the South West were recorded at Lanhydrock with 146 blooms, while Glendurgan saw the biggest drop in numbers of blooms from 98 in 2014 to 73 this year.
Many National Trust gardens are already open. For more information and opening times see our website