The first day of spring arrived but with very little sign of warmer temperatures normally associated with this very important day in the gardening calender. It has been a complete contrast to this time last year when the UK was enjoying a heatwave.
Matthew Oates, a naturalist working with the National Trust , recalls how the heatwave combined with a drought resulted in wildfires, hosepipe bans, packed beaches and record sales of ice cream and garden plants Back then, he says, the daffodils were nearly over by 21 March, the bluebells were well out, and the birds had long been nesting.
“There is an eternal push-and-pull relationship between spring and winter. The battle is usually at its fiercest during February, but can last well into April. This is a very late spring indeed. The trees are barely out. There’s a bit of hawthorn and blackthorn and some pussy willow, but they are way off leafing. There’s absolutely no sign of chestnuts, the bluebells have barely moved, the primroses are very slow and the birds coming up from Europe are being held back by the northerly winds. Only the rooks are keeping going. They just don’t care about the cold. They are building their nests wonderfully.”