As many of us continue to go on our daily outdoor exercise we are beginning to see the early signs that spring will soon be upon us, bringing a sense of hope for warmer weather and longer sunny days ahead. So, what are those key early signs of spring we can all be looking out for in the next few weeks?
For those of us with access to local woodlands there are several native* wildflowers that begin to emerge. The first of these to emerge on the woodland floor is the unmistakable snowdrop, with its bold green foliage and brilliant white flowers, hanging delicately like teardrops towards the woodland floor, symbolising for many hope, purity, and innocence. Since the 1950s snowdrops have been appearing earlier, with some sightings being recorded in late December, a sure sign of changing seasonal climates.
Other plants to keep an eye out for underfoot include primrose, which can also be seen at the edge of hedges and open grasslands, lesser celandine, and wood anemone, both great indicators of ancient woodland and the leaves of wild garlic with its distinctive aroma, which will start to emerge.
In parks and green spaces, the appearance of flowers such as crocuses with their bold purples, oranges and yellows, and swathes of daffodils, also bring the joy and hope that spring is getting closer.
Trees too are beginning to wake from their winter slumber as the warmer temperatures trigger the mobilisation of tree roots to start taking up water and nutrients from the soil, buds resting dormant since autumn, get ready to burst into life in what is known as ‘budbreak’. Hazel takes the lead in this with its long hanging golden male catkins, also named lambs tails releasing pollen in the air, with the aim of fertilising the female catkins on neighbouring trees.
You can also keep an eye out of early blossom of cherry plum, wild plum and blackthorn and for budburst on alder, rowan, wild cherry and hawthorn as they too get ready to play their part in the magnificent display of wonderous colour and vitality we enjoy each spring and early summer.
What have you spotted in your local green spaces? Share your own spring discoveries using the hashtag #TreelyConnected and let us uplift and inspire one another during this challenging time.
*Native plant is defined as either a plant that arrived naturally in Britain and Ireland since the end of the last glaciation (i.e. without the assistance of humans) or one that was already present (i.e. it persisted during the last Ice Age). Definition taken from Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland