Spring flowers bloom in the south-west - but don't forget your garden birds

Spring flowers bloom in the south-west - but don't forget your garden birds

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We're now officially into the meteorological spring and most of us will be eagerly looking for signs that better weather is on the way.

If you live in the south-west, you might not have too far to seek out these indicators, as a study has suggested that spring flowers are already bountiful in this region.

The National Trust has published the results of its annual Valentine's flower count, which saw gardeners and volunteers record flowers at properties across the south-west.

They noted 1,622 flowering plants, compared to 1,454 in 2014, with the most in bloom at Lanhydrock near Bodmin in Cornwall.

Devon and Cornwall alone saw 1,345 flowers at 18 gardens, well up on the 1,205 in 2014 - but still not as high as the record 3,335 in 2008.

The National Trust attributed the increase to a milder, sunnier and less wet winter. Indeed, the Met Office recently reported that as of February 28th, Britain had already seen 189 hours of sunshine. This made it the joint sunniest winter in nearly 100 years, along with 2001.

National Trust gardens adviser in the south-west Ian Wright said: "Comparing the number of plants across our gardens on a set day each year gives us a real insight into how our gardens respond to weather patterns, and is a useful barometer for the season ahead."

However, although it's great to hear that a new season is already underway, it's important to remember that the south-west is one of the mildest parts of Britain and so many of the more northerly regions will still be chilly for a while yet.

Some parts of the UK are expected to receive snow and further frosts this week, so they might not be quite so lucky in terms of seeing spring blooms at the beginning of March.

That's why it's essential to keep on with your wildlife feeding regimes, rather than assuming they'll have all the nutrients they need in the wild. 

Birds in particular may still be struggling where the ground is still hard, so keep their energy levels up with some of our Hi-Energy Supreme seed mix, which will attract Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Robins.