How is the mild weather affecting nature?

The autumn and winter of 2015 has seen some unseasonably mild weather with day time temperatures remaining in double figures far longer than usual – and even night-time temperatures have remained very high. 2015 is now the warmest year on record, thought to be the result of man-made climate change and El Nino. This mild weather has affected wildlife and the natural world at many of our places.

Narcissus 'California' growing in March at Cotehele, Cornwall.At Polesden Lacey in Surrey daffodils and daisies are in bloom, bats, which would normally be hibernating, are still flying around, as are insects such as bumblebees, ladybirds and wasps.

Strawberries are still fruiting in gardens in Devon and in the Chilterns our ranger team has seen flowers on holly trees, cherry trees in blossom, rooks starting to nest and the grass continuing to grow.

Crowd pleasers such as snowdrops and daffodils are flowering at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire. While on the South Downs, catkins are already opening on hazel trees and hawthorn has been spotted coming into flower.

Pete Brash, an animal ecologist for the National Trust, said: “The weather has been ridiculously mild which is having an impact on our wildlife. We’ve seen swifts, swallows and sand martins and there are a number of flowers in bloom very early including  dandelions and even cowslips.

“As we’re seeing the effects of climate change on our winters, nature is simply taking a gamble. If the swallows, for instance, can find sufficient food to maintain good condition then they can be first on the best territories ahead of breeding season next year. But, they have to weigh up the associated risks of staying and not being able to find sufficient food and warmth versus the risks of travelling 3000 miles.

“What could be a worry, however, is that long-range forecasts are predicting that January might see considerably colder weather on the way, which could cause problems.”

Newton’s pips take space tour with Peake

Apple seeds from the famous tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity have been sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the latest mission which saw British astronaut Tim Peake blast off to join this week.

Newton's apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor. Credit Ann Blackett and National Trust

Newton’s apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor. Credit Ann Blackett

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Autumn review

Susan Guy_Calke Abbey_Serpentine Wood_Autumn 31.10.15_2

Autumn colours at the end of October in Serpentine Wood at Calke Abbey. Credit Susan Guy.

Matthew Oates, nature and wildlife specialist, looks back on the effects of a mild autumn on our wildlife:

Autumn has been incredibly mild, to date.  The south has had a single light frost, a windscreen affair on October 25th. It has also been dry, everywhere – with a drought in Northern Ireland – until the autumn rains arrived, perhaps with a vengeance, after the warmest November day on record (the 1st).

In consequence, many summer plants are flowering in garden and countryside.  Even tender summer annuals, such as Nasturtiums, are persisting.  In the wild some high summer plants have sprung back into bloom, notably the brambles.  Also, many of spring’s flowers are evident, again in both garden and countryside – especially Primrose, violets, Wild Strawberry and, most noticeably, the garden Viburnums.

Insects have lingered long into the autumn. Speckled Wood butterflies made it into November in numbers over much of southern Britain, and dragonflies, moths and crickets and grasshoppers have also persisted well. This year it will be the rains, rather than the frosts, that kill them off.

The leaves came off on time, with the exception of the Ash which dropped somewhat early in many districts. The maples flamed deep red this year.

Now, Fieldfare and Redwing seem unusually numerous, perhaps because poor weather in Scandinavia and Russia has pushed them deep into their wintering grounds.

It seems likely that the first part of the winter, at least, will be mild and wet, and perhaps stormy.

Thank you National Lottery players!

Today the National Trust is taking stock and saying a big #ThankYouThursday to everyone that has purchased a National Lottery ticket and indirectly helped us to complete some amazing projects in our gardens over the past 21 years.

In fact, across 17 garden related projects we have received an incredible £19.07 million. Continue reading

National Trust gardens star once again in Open Garden Squares Weekend

The National Trust is inviting visitors to enjoy and explore the unique gardens of seven of its London properties on 13 and 14 June as part of Open Garden Squares Weekend 2015.

The gardens at Osterley Park and House in London. Credit National Trust Images

The gardens at Osterley Park and House in London. Credit National Trust Images

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Original Irish Yew creates Sea Monster at Mount Stewart

A new Celtic figure sculpted from yew will welcome visitors to the world famous Mount Stewart gardens on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland.

l-r Neil Porteous, National Trust Head of Gardens and Alan Ryder, Mount Stewart Propagator with the new Formorian. Credit Elaine Hill

l-r Neil Porteous, National Trust Head of Gardens and Alan Ryder, Mount Stewart Propagator with the new Formorian. Credit Elaine Hill

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National Trust’s first garden centre opens

The National Trust’s first garden centre at Morden Hall Park will officially open on Saturday 9 May.

The 5,000 square metre garden centre is the only outlet in the UK to be completely peat free, selling a range of plants and shrubs in line with the conservation charity’s principles.

The National Trust's new garden centre at Morden Hall Park in South London.  Credit Sophia Schorr-Kon

The National Trust’s new garden centre at Morden Hall Park in South London. Credit Sophia Schorr-Kon

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