Spring colour takes hold in south west gardens despite stormy weather

An annual Valentine's flower count in south west England has revealed that this winter's extra stormy weather has not stopped the onset of spring.

Trelissick head gardener TomClarke counts daffodils. Picture: Steven Haywood
Trelissick head gardener TomClarke counts daffodils. Picture: Steven Haywood
The count, undertaken yesterday (Feb 13) by gardeners and volunteers in 23 National Trust gardens found a rare rhododendron in flower for second time in 30 years.

This year 1,464 plants were recorded in gardens across the whole region compared to 1,455 in 2013.  In 2008 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded, marking that the earliest spring so far recorded.
Saltram in Devon has the highest number of blooms, 153, while Lanhydrock in Cornwall saw the biggest drop in the number of flowers, from 136 in 2013 to 89 this year.
Head gardener at Lanhydrock Tommy Teagle, said: "The season at Lanhydrock is much later than previous years and I’ve recorded rainfall every day for the last 63 days. However, we do have plenty of buds waiting to flower when the weather eventually improves."
South west gardens adviser Ian Wright said: "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.
"Gardens in the south west are usually the furthest advanced in the UK with early spring blooms and, this year, thanks to the mild weather and very few hard frosts are very slightly up on last year.
"There are some encouraging signs of spring with bountiful displays of snowdrops at Kingston Lacy in Dorset and masses of cyclamen and spring bulbs at Killerton in Devon.
"In some cases things are a little behind but the milder conditions, albeit very wet and windy, have so far not affected early blooming shrubs and flowers, although many are still holding back for drier and brighter conditions.
"The usual show stoppers are showing promising signs; there is a profusion of buds on Camellias in particular, which are just beginning to open. Magnolias are also showing promising signs for a spectacular, if slightly later than normal, show."

As part of the flower count, the National Trust asked supporters what their favourite spring flower is. The snowdrop came out top, followed by daffodils and primroses.  Respondents said their favourite three spring flower gardens in the South West are Cotehele, Lanhydrock and Trelissick, all in Cornwall.

The Valentine’s Day count started in Devon and Cornwall in 2006.

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