‘The early bird catches the worm… or not’

It appears as though the erratic British weather has once again broken historical records for its variety, and at times inconsiderate choice of climatic conditions. Not only do we become confused as to whether we should pack an umbrella in the car or a set of skis, our poor plants and natural surroundings are having a distressful time trying to comprehend when they should poke their little noses out of the soil.
Click here: Glowing bright white snowdrops peeping from the undergrowth

According to official Met Office figures, we have experienced the warmest and wettest December since records began back in 1910. Average temperatures across the UK were around 4°C (7.2F), an extremely mild figure for that time of year.  

I am starting to question whether we will ever again experience the archetypal conditions of long hot summers and white Christmases.

Is this now the norm? Will traditional seasons become obsolete?

The situation:
The unseasonably warm temperatures have unsettled the natural world and certain plants that you would expect to see in the spring began to rear their pretty little heads as early as December, greeting some of us with a background of colour at Christmas – a completely bizarre notion to behold.
Click here: Bright and cheery Daffodils upon lush green foliage

Most of the plants, shrubs and trees we grow in our British gardens have evolved to take advantage of the positives and negatives that are accustomed with each season, so you need to think of it as a disruption of routine - Instead of having toast for breakfast; you’ll be served up a plate of fish and chips. 

It can disrupt the equilibrium of what is considered ‘normality’. 

It is essential that many plants undertake a period of dormancy during cold and frosty weather in order to perform well for the following season. Without this, the growth rate and level of health can diminish.



Click here: Striking Anemones displaying a splash of bold blue blooms
How to help:
You may find that some early flowering blooms such as daffodils and Tulips are lost sooner than you would desire. 

If it is too late to recover these plants, it is a case of leaving them in place for the following season. 

For those plants that have wilted already there are things you can action for future reference: In the late autumn, you may wish to add a protective layer of mulch, keeping the soil temperature at a consistent level, shielding premature foliage from harm. 

Click here A touch of pink in a plant pot
Ideally, if you start to see the signs of new shoots and growth before you would like to, adding mulch in any case should reduce the speed at which these plants grow, ensuring they flower at an appropriate time.   

Overly eager foliage can be destroyed by erratic weather conditions, especially the cold and intense winds, so if you find your early flowering plants in a bit of a sorry state, it may be an idea to invest in a covering. These needn't put you out of pocket, as you can use a variety of household materials that will do the job just fine - such as old bedsheets and newspaper.

Implementing a cover to these plants will retain a consistent level of heat which naturally rises from the soil. It will also prevent any impending frost from settling on the blooms which can burn the petals and cause entire blooms to wilt- bear this is mind if we are due any further chilly snaps.  

Ensure you are maintaining an appropriate feed and watering regime for each plant, treating them exactly the same as if they were flowering at their preferred time. This should encourage retained health and development. 

***

Personally I have managed to utilise some of these early flowering plants as cut flowers, filling numerous rooms in the house with 50 shades of bright yellow daffodils - it is a delight to see and conjures an image of warmer days. 

What plants have you seen in your gardens since winter?

I would love to hear from you!

becky@hayloftplants.co.uk


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