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Mild weather prompts blossom weeks early in sign of ‘rapidly changing climate’

By PA News

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Unseasonably mild weather has prompted flowering trees and blossom to emerge four weeks earlier than usual, the National Trust has said.

Pockets of blooming trees and shrubs are already starting to emerge in Trust gardens across the South West and South East of England and Wales, the charity said, in a sign of the “rapidly changing climate”.

As long as there is no prolonged cold snap, the country could look forward to a drawn-out blossom season with “ripples” of blooms spreading across the nation, followed by a bumper fruit harvest, the trust said.

Magnolias at the National Trust’s Glendurgan, Cornwall, have reached their peak four weeks ahead of last year when they hit their peak flowering in late March.

Magnolia campbellii blooming weeks ahead of schedule at Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan (National Trust/PA)
Magnolia campbellii blooming weeks ahead of schedule at Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan (National Trust/PA)

At Trengwainton Garden, the first of its 39 varieties of magnolia is laden with blooms far earlier than normal, and at Trelissick, the Cornish red rhododendrons are in full bloom after starting to flower in November, trust gardeners said.

In Wales, Bodnant Garden’s magnolia collection is also blooming several weeks ahead of last year, and rhododendrons are flowering early.

Apricot trees are in flower at Dyffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan, and the head gardener Chris Flynn said: “Even the apple trees in our orchard are starting to bud up, which is exceptionally early.”

“On the plus side, this early emergence of blossom means there is plenty of food for our white-tailed bumblebees, of which we have seen quite a few flying around already, coaxed out of their hibernation by the promise of spring.

“We are very conscious however, that any late frosts could be disastrous by damaging the blooms they rely on for food – so we have actively been planting a wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees to ensure all of our insects can rely on a rich succession of flowers coming into bloom, as we adapt our gardens to a changing climate.”

Andy Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust said: “Some of the early flowering we’re witnessing in our gardens is absolutely spectacular – and certainly brings welcome cheer – but these blooms are also a very visual sign of how our seasons are shifting, and the consequences of a rapidly changing climate, especially over the last decade.”

Apricot blossom in the kitchen garden at Ham House, Richmon (National Trust/John Myers/PA)
Apricot blossom in the kitchen garden at Ham House, Richmon (National Trust/John Myers/PA)

He said this year’s weather patterns were a stark contrast to last year, which had the driest February in 30 years and repeated cold snaps into March.

The dry start to the year was followed by the prolonged period of largely wet and mild weather for many areas of the country, which meant that “trees and plants haven’t really stopped growing or had a particularly long period of shutdown”.

“As long as we don’t now experience any prolonged sharp dip in temperatures, we should be able to look forward to a very drawn-out blossom season with ripples of blossom spreading across the country, from the south-west and Wales through to Northern Ireland, north-east England and Scotland, followed by a bumper year for fruit harvests.”

The National Trust, which is gearing up for its annual campaign encouraging people to share the joy of blossom, also said more typical blooms for this time of year including white blackthorn were starting to put on a show.

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