Comment: Late Spring

Spring is a variable feast, depending on how readily winter is prepared to let go, or not. Winter is holding on grimly, though it will eventually lose out, for spring will break through and lead us joyously into summer. Late springs are not that unusual. During the late 1970s and early 80s we had a run of them. More recently, the spring of 1996 was incredibly late, culminating in a particularly cold May, and those of 2008 and 2010 were also distinctly slow. So we’ve been here before.

An early Easter seems to tempt the weather to produce its worst. In 2008, Easter occurred even earlier than it does this year – and it snowed, and after a snow-free winter. The good news, though, is that a poor spring doesn’t necessarily lead to a dismal summer – the bad springs of 1983 and 1996, as examples, gave way to lovely summers. We are overdue a good summer… .

A slow and late spring is no bad thing, for flowers, leaves, insects, nesting birds and breeding amphibians can all get caught out when an early spring suddenly disintegrates into a cold snap. Slow and steady is perhaps best overall, though some hibernating animals can run out of fuel, so to speak, if their emergence gets badly delayed.

The flower count at Hidcote didn't quite go to plan...

The flower count at Hidcote didn’t quite go according to plan…

  • Matthew Oates has worked for the National Trust for over 20 years.  Although passionate about butterflies he is very much an all-round naturalist and is effectively the Trust’s resident naturalist. He works closely with the Trust’s network of ecologists and naturalist rangers throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has recently been featured in his own program on BBC Radio 4 “In pursuit of the ridiculous”.


BBC: Spring equinox today but winter lingers

Guardian: Nature lies dormant ahead of first day of Spring


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