PICTURES: Bluebells blooming thanks to Snowdonia cattle

Three highland cattle are helping bluebells bloom again in one Snowdonia wood.

The National Trust introduced cows Myfi, Wmffre and Hugo to Coed Ganllwyd on the charity’s Dolmelynllyn Estate in 2015. Livestock had been excluded from the woods for the past 40 years.

Highland cow 1

A highland cow grazing at the National Trust’s Dolmelynllyn Estate. Credit: National Trust

Rhodri Wigley, National Trust ranger, said: “Before the cattle arrived it was quite overgrown. The understorey was thick with brambles.”

The hardy cattle, which spend all year on the estate’s woods, help tackle the thick bramble on the woodland floor – allowing more delicate plants like bluebells and wild garlic to break through.

highland cow 2

A highland cow grazing at the National Trust’s Dolmelynllyn Estate. Credit: National Trust

Rhodri said: “The heifer has two big horns which she uses to pull down branches and eat the leaves.

“The grazing makes a massive difference. You can see through the woods now. Last year we saw a lot more wild garlic in the woods – and it’s an even bigger area of garlic this year.”

Rangers regularly move the cattle between parcels of woodland on the estate. Once the cattle have cleared the brambles they hope to introduce sheep from local farmers.


PICTURES: Spring daffodil display at Cornwall’s Cotehele

Bright yellow daffodils banished grey sky blues for Cornish tot Pearl Fogarty.

The four-year-old spent the day in the gardens at Cotehele, near Saltash, Cornwall, which boast more than 250 varieties of daffodils.


Pearl Fogarty, 4, with the daffodils at Cotehele, Cornwall. Credit: Steven Haywood / National Trust Images

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Spring equinox: could we be in for a hot summer?

National Trust experts have predicted a hot summer could be on the way, as winter finally ends.

The spring equinox, which occurs today, formally marks the end of winter.

Matthew Oates, nature specialist at the National Trust, said: “We’ve had an unusually mild winter – yet again.

“UK-wide it has now been rather dry since mid-August. Perhaps a long, hot summer is brewing?

“Spring, by contemporary standards, is running just about on-time, though its progress will be slowed by cool, wet weather this week.

“However spring performs, the truth is that at spring’s beginning winter can be instantly forgotten.”

Longer, warmer days have seen wildlife begin to wake up at National Trust places across the country.

Rangers and gardeners from the conservation charity have taken to social media to share pictures of spring flowers, leaping lambs and nesting birds.


‘Spring is on the way; you can smell it’, say National Trust Gardeners

The 2017 Annual National Trust Valentines Day Flower Count  at Greenway House  the former  home of Agatha Christie - Amy U’Ren amongst the camellias

The 2017 Annual National Trust Valentines Day Flower Count at Greenway Hous,e the former home of Agatha Christie – Amy U’Ren amongst the camellias. Credit National Trust, Steven Haywood

National Trust garden teams in the south west [1] have conducted their annual flower count for Valentine’s Day and although spring seems to be on the way, just as we would expect, what is noticeable is how many scented plants are already out in flower at this early time of year.

Gardeners from across National Trust gardens in the south west recorded 1,737 plants blooming in this year’s 12th annual Valentine’s Flower Count, which is 34% down on last year’s figure of 2,644. However, while numbers are down on 2016, they are still higher than the previous three years [2]. Continue reading

63% more plants blooming in this year’s annual Valentine’s flower count

National Trust Garden teams in South West England have been busy recording flowers in bloom in this year’s annual Valentine’s Flower Count, with nearly all gardens showing an increase on last year.

The Annual National Trust Valentine's Flower Count - Fiona Hailstone counting Snowdrops

The Annual National Trust Valentine’s Flower Count – Fiona Hailstone counting Snowdrops

In 2008, 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded in Devon and Cornwall (where the flower count first started), marking the earliest spring so far recorded during the count. This year, 2,644 plants were recorded in gardens across the whole of the South West compared to 1,622 in 2015. Continue reading

Valentine’s Day flower count – Late snow pauses spring, but great displays still to come


It comes as no surprise that the recent cold, snowy weather has put a pause on spring as flowering plants and bulbs hold back for warmer temperatures.

Gardeners at 54 National Trust properties across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have taken part in the annual Valentine’s Day flower count which first started in Devon and Cornwall in 2006.

In among the snowdrops for this year's flower count at Lanhydrock. Credit Steven HaywoodIt is the South West which is usually the furthest advanced with early spring blooms, but numbers have dropped significantly at several gardens, although there are some encouraging signs of spring with bountiful displays of snowdrops and Camelias at Saltram and masses of spring bulbs at Killerton as well as some stunning displays of magnolias in bloom at Trelissick in Cornwall.

Ian Wright, one of the National Trust’s Gardens Consultant, said:

“It’s the first time since the survey began that some of our gardeners have been out counting flowers in the snow! Temperatures of near freezing didn’t put off our hardy gardeners as they set about the annual flower count.

“In the far West of Cornwall, the Magnolias have started to deliver their spring spectacular, whereas in some high areas of the Cotswolds, few flowers could be seen due to a covering of snow.

The flower count at Hidcote, Gloucestershire

“We are greatly encouraged that this year will see some great snowdrop spectaculars as at Saltram near Plymouth in Devon, and Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge, some fantastic displays are already out.

“Spring therefore is back to a more ‘normal’ time of year, unlike previously when it has been much earlier.

“On the evidence of our count I think that the Magnolias and Rhododendrons may well again be the big success stories this spring due in part to the wet autumn, with fantastic displays expected at Bodnant, Lanhydrock, Trelissick, Trengwainton and Killerton in the coming weeks.”

This year 1,198 plants in bloom were recorded in 17 gardens in Devon and Cornwall compared to 1,745 in 17 gardens in 2012 – a reduction of nearly 46 per cent. In 2008 3,335 plants in flower were recorded, marking the earliest spring so far recorded.

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens & Parks at the National Trust, said:

“On the back of one of the wettest years on record, this past month of icy temperatures and snow followed in some areas by a thaw, have certainly slowed things down in our gardens.

The flower count at Lanhydrock 2. Credit Steven Haywood

“Although the count is down for Valentine’s Day, we can confidently look forward to spectacular displays as time moves on and temperatures gradually start to rise.    

“Comparing the number of plants across our gardens on a set day every year gives us a real insight into how our gardens respond to weather patterns, and is a useful ‘barometer’ for the season ahead.”

The highest number of flowers recorded was at Anglesey Abbey with 234 blooms, while Lanhydrock and Cotehele in Cornwall saw the biggest drop in numbers of bloom (down from 248 to 136 and 228 to 102 respectively).