Monday, December 26, 2011

Gardening: It’s bloomin’ early

FOR some years now, we have had reports of a wide variety of springtime plants coming into flower in the autumn and early winter.

And this year has probably been amongst the most exceptional, with November having been one of the mildest on record.

The study of the timing of natural phenomenon such as when certain plants flower or come into leaf is called phenology and it has become more important in recent years, as the concerns about global warming/climate change have been increasing.

The studies are based on the fact that the various activities of plants are controlled by light intensity, day-length or temperature, with some plants being influenced by more than one of these factors.

Well, nature seems to have given us an early Christmas this year because I have had reports that the snowdrops are out in Beaumont Park, there is a forsythia in flower in Shelley and I have recently seen a winter aconite in flower in North Yorkshire, one month before it should.

I have a Narcissus ‘White Cheerfulness’ in flower in my garden that does not normally flower until late February and there are signs of tulip and bluebell foliage that you would not expect until March.

So, despite the ravages of last winter and the poor late summer this year, nature, as always, is throwing up some surprises that we can have little control over and we should just enjoy the fleeting moments of pleasure and hope that the plants will not suffer for getting out of bed too early!


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