The British winter this year has been warm as well as wet. October, November and December have all been unseasonably warm. October was around 0.5 degrees warmer and was also a drier than average month, but November and December broke records for temperature and rainfall. Some parts of the country experienced 200% of average rainfall, with November temperatures being 2 degrees above average and December 6 degrees warmer than average, and in Central England the warmest since records began in 1659. Remarkably the Met Office did not record any frosts in England and Wales through the whole month of December.
The effect on gardens has been very noticeable. In many areas of the country the sound of mowers has continued through November and December as grass has continued to grow. In other areas Spring flowers have come into bloom months early. There have been reports and pictures of daffodils in December in London, Windsor, Cheshire and even Lancashire. Kew’s Wakehurst Place has seen carpets of Spring flowers up to two months earlier than last year, over eighty flowering varieties including crocuses, camellias and rhododendrons. At Kew gardens in London the magnolias are in full bloom, also a few months early. The RHS Chief Gardener told the Independent newspaper that “There is nothing we can do about the weather, but on the other hand, it is nice to be able to get on and do things in the garden without having to put on heavy jackets and thick gloves and so on.”
Whilst this mild weather might present us with the chance to get out there and garden, this out of season flowering feels rather uncomfortable. The effect of not having these flowers available to insects when they start getting busy again later in the Spring remains to be seen. Here in the Genus garden we may also need to think about what we can do to fill the spaces in our Spring displays.