Spring flowers 'devastated' by winter freeze

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  • Spring flowers 'devastated' by winter freeze
    16.02.2009 14:29

    Some of the country's most celebrated gardens have seen their flower levels slashed by half thanks to the winter freeze, it emerged today.

    Gardens in the south west of England, known for their early spring flowers, have been devastated by ice and snow and many face 'massive' clean-ups, the National Trust (NT) revealed.

    The annual NT spring flower count, which takes place in Devon and Cornwall, is 60 per cent down on plants in flower compared with last year.

    Some gardeners are reporting loss and damage to more than half of their gardens, an NT spokesman said.

    The spring flower count has been conducted by gardeners and volunteers around Valentine's Day every year since 2006 to provide a snapshot of how changes in the weather affect flowers.

    The gardens in the south west - particularly Cornwall - are usually able to grow many tender plants due to the mild year-round climate.

    Ian Wright, National Trust Gardens Advisor for Devon and Cornwall said: "We've seen the coldest weather in the south west for more than a decade and it has thrown up a real contrast between the two counties.

    "Cornish gardens, with their tender southern hemisphere and Mediterranean species, have been hit particularly hard by severe frost and some of the gardens in Devon have seen heavy snowfall damage on many trees and shrubs.

    "Our gardeners have undertaken a massive clear up operation to be ready for opening this spring and some have reported that up to 60 per cent of the plants in their gardens have been damaged by the snow."

    Up to a third of tender plants may have been lost or damaged in Glendurgan Gardens, near Falmouth. In Knightshayes, in Tiverton, Devon, up to 60 percent of the garden has been damaged by the weight of snow.

    Holnicote estate, on the edge of Exmoor, in Somerset has also lost 'scores' of trees under the sheer weight of snow.

    Countryside Manager Nigel Hester today described the damage to trees as the worst he's seen from any storm in 20 years.

    So many trees are blocking paths he estimated that it would take 'six weeks solid' to clear the backlog.

    During the last decade there has been a trend for warmer, wetter winters, with the south west especially experiencing earlier and earlier spring blooms. However, this year the gardens are expected to come into flower slightly later.

    Ian Wright added: "It's not all doom and gloom. Our gardens are already beginning to recover - nature recovers very quickly - and the good news is that many of the traditional spring flowers such as camellias, magnolias, snowdrops and daffodils are doing fine.

    "We expect that this year spring is just going to come to our gardens a little bit later than it has done over the last few years.'"