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First day of spring but winter lingers on

Posted Mar 20 2013 5:43am

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.”

Conservationists have been taken by surprise after a decade or more of warm weather  arriving on average two weeks earlier than it used to .

Movement of the Jet stream is responsible for this bitter cold weather and it looks set to continue for some time yet!

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