Six signs of spring in the garden

signs of spring Green Fingered Blog
With such strange weather, it sometimes feels like we don't have actual seasons any more, just random changes in temperature. But there are definite signs of spring in the garden at the moment...

Climate change is a long term process and I don't know that I've been around long enough to recognise significant changes, but the considerable variation in temperature and weather from year to year is very clear to see, especially here in the UK.
Without checking the meteorological records, and allowing for the unreliability of human memory, there is nonetheless a definite feeling that winters are milder than they used to be. It is no longer a case (if it ever was) of things gradually cooling down through autumn, getting icy in mid-winter, and gradually warming up again as spring approaches.
Instead, the weather varies week by week, at times seeming to subjugate the traditional seasons, and appearing to disregard the time of year. We can see torrential rain in midsummer, snow as late as April, and warm days of at least 20C in November. Some parts of the UK have had some serious snow recently, but here in the Taff Gorge in South East Wales we have hardly had a frost since a cold snap in early December.
There is an irony, often lost, that if climate change continues, the result for the UK will not, as is often thought, be tropical temperatures and Mediterranean style gardens. The likely ultimate outcome of global warming is that the Atlantic gulf stream will fail and the UK will no longer be protected from the cold winters that affect most places this far North. We will in fact be subjected to very cold winters and long periods of snow and ice. I am gardening at a latitude further North than both Calgary and Krakow. To have their winter conditions would be a drastic change!  
As it is, the short term fluctuations can be confusing for gardeners, and even more so for plants. It can upset the previous natural rhythm of the garden. Primroses seem to be flowering all year round, and roses are forming buds after Christmas, only to be stopped in their tracks when the temperature drops again for a week or so.
Less hardy specimens tricked into flowering early by spring like conditions in January can get caught out and their flowers subsequently killed off by the next frost. This has potentially wider implications, as when it happens to fruit trees it can render the crop a failure for that year. At other times it simply creates panic in the gardener trying to enjoy a floral display.    
Here we are in January and it's 6C outside (it's -16 in Calgary apparently!). We can expect some cold and frosty spells before the clocks go forward again no doubt, and possibly afterwards too. It's sufficiently typical of the time of year though for the spring plants to develop and create their shoots and buds, gently encouraged by the lengthening days. It's as if they're warming up backstage, preparing to make their entrance and perform for us when spring arrives. Here are six that are looking promising: 

Six signs of spring in the garden

This is a Six on Saturday post, part of a meme started by The Propagator. Pop over to his site to see what everyone else has found in their garden this week. 

Daphne odora

Simply the best smell in the garden when it's flowering in February or March, Daphne is an essential for me, I love it! It's always a pleasure to notice that the buds are forming and I'll soon be able to smell it once more. Everyone should have one in a pot right outside the door.
Daphne odora Green Fingered Blog
Daphne odora

Allium nigrum

I love alliums, they are so useful. They compliment other plants nicely, and look good on their own or planted in groups. They add a bit of height, attract pollinators, and even look good as dried seedheads. This year I'm growing Allium nigrum for the first time, hoping to get some flowers earlier in the year in my white border. And so far they seem to be growing well. They should look great alongside the white foxgloves.
Allium nigrum Green Fingered Blog
Allium nigrum

Prunus incisa "Kojo-no-mai"

The Japanese cherry is a wonderful sight in full flower on bare stems. At the moment the buds are swelling and perhaps showing just a hint of colour. It needs pruning to remove all the crossing tangled branches in the centre.  
Prunus incisa "Kojo no mai" Green Fingered Blog
Prunus incisa "Kojo no mai"


These seed themselves all over the garden. I just pull them up from places I don't want them and leave them where I think they look good. Some also grow from last years remaining crowns, like this one, which is just getting going again.
Aquilegia Green Fingered Blog

Meconopsis cambrica

Our native Welsh poppy also seeds readily around. Some of them flowered into November this year which was a strange sight, and a sign of the strange weather conditions confusing the seasons. But this one is certainly back on schedule, emerging just as expected.
Meconopsis cambrica Green Fingered Blog
Meconopsis cambrica

Arum maculatum

I've heard that "Lords and Ladies" is invasive, but it shows no sign of taking over my garden. It lends my woodland area an air of authenticity, and simply pops up each year, flowers, fruits and fades back into the ground. And here it comes again.
Arum maculatum Green Fingered Blog
Arum maculatum
So spring is coming soon, right on schedule. Everything is normal and predictable. Right? We'll see...


  1. Here, to the west of you, I'm also noticing changes in the weather. Whereas, some years ago, a stormy October was traditional, it's now a relatively calm month and the heavy storms come in December and early January. What we lovingly call "Summer" comes much earlier and the start of the schools' summer break heralds the onset of the rainy season. Summer's in May, June and early July and then returns for September and a chunk of October. This year I may invest in some large sheets of fleece as insurance but carry on on the basis that the last frost will be around the beginning of March.

    1. To me it just seems different every year without much of a pattern. One year the hot summer comes in June, the next it's in August and June is a washout. I couldn't believe the things that were flowering in November just passed. At the moment things seem more normal but it can all change with one weather system!