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.

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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.

 

Early-born lamb due April 1 leaves Cornwall farmers feeling foolish

Shepherds on Britain’s most southerly farm were left feeling foolish after their first lamb of the year was born three weeks early.

Rona and Nevil Amiss, who farm the National Trust-owned Tregullas Farm on Cornwall’s Lizard Point, had been expecting their flock to start lambing on 1 April – April Fools’ Day.

But the couple’s plans were left in tatters when the first lamb was born on the farm last Tuesday, after a ram struggled into the ewe’s field last October.

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Farmers’ daughter Elsa Amiss, 18, with the first lamb born at Tregullas Farm, Cornwall – mainland Britain’s most southerly farm. CREDIT: Ben Birchall/PA Wire. For more pictures: Press Association (A ANIMALS Lambs)

Rona Amiss, tenant farmer at Tregullas, said: “Normally lambing begins on 1 April, but like all best laid plans it often doesn’t quite work out that way.

“Back in October one lively ram escaped and walked round the cliff path to the opposite end of the farm and got in with the ewe.”

The hardy Lleyn-cross lambs at Tregullas spend most of their lives outside and are fed entirely on grass or silage.

“It’s a sustainable way of farming that suits the mild climate of the Lizard Peninsula,” Rona said.

“If we calve and lamb in April as the grass is growing at its best we can match the needs of the livestock without having to resort to bought-in expensive feeds.”

Tregullas has won two National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards for its lamb. Farmers Rona and Nevil Amiss, whose five children help out on the farm including 18-year-old daughter Elsa, have worked to improve the farm for rare wildlife such as the crow-like Cornish Chough.

Rona said: “Having a good rotation of sheep, cattle and arable around the farm means we are increasing the opportunities for wildlife to thrive. The jigsaw of habitats that this creates means a mix of food sources for our numerous birds, especially the iconic Cornish Chough.”

The National Trust acquired Tregullas Farm, which sits in the shadow of Lizard Point lighthouse, in the 1990s.

Lead ranger Justin Whitehouse added: “Tregullas is a flagship farm for the Trust, showing how farming with high conservation standards can be profitable and sustainable, producing quality local produce – and benefiting wildlife and people.”

Amy Liptrot’s THE OUTRUN wins Wainwright Prize at BBC Countryfile Live

Amy Liptrot’s debut book was named winner of the prestigious award for nature writing at a special event at BBC Countryfile Live this afternoon.

The Outrun, her account of reconnecting with her native Orkney, beat five other titles to win the Wainwright Golden Beer Prize.

Amy Liptrot

Amy Liptrot

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‘Chamber of secrets’ brings Cliveden’s ghosts to life

Pic, A historic chamber will open to visitors at the National Trust's Cliveden following conservation work, NT Images-John MillarAs the glamorous Cliveden Estate in Buckinghamshire celebrates its 350th anniversary, an historic chamber located below the South Terrace is opening for the first time in 30 years, inviting visitors to help the National Trust solve the mystery of its past.

From the notorious 2nd Duke of Buckingham who built the first house for his mistress before fatally wounding her husband, to the focus of the Profumo affair in the 1960s, Cliveden has long been a place of scandal and intrigue.

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Discover a sea of bluebells with the National Trust

Spring has arrived and what better way to brighten up your day than by taking a walk to see the bluebells across National Trust places.

There is something magical about bluebells. With their sudden, mystical takeover of ancient woodlands the flowers have long been linked to the fairy-world.

Get the family together and discover the delights of these delicate flowers that transform Britain’s wonderful woodlands. The blooming date for bluebells varies depending on the weather, but you can usually expect to see them in April and May.

Here’s a selection of the top National Trust places and events where you can enjoy bluebells in all their glory:

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Spring fever

With the arrival of spring National Trust wildlife expert Matthew Oates muses on the changes this season of beauty brings:

Narcissus 'California' growing in March at Cotehele, Cornwall.

Narcissus ‘California’ growing in March at Cotehele, Cornwall.

“Spring has been officially ushered in by the equinox. Signs of it, of course, have been with us since before Christmas, as the first half of ‘winter’ was remarkably mild, December in particular. Had colder, more normal weather not arrived in mid-February, and persisted until recently, spring would now be in an even more advanced state than it is. A colder month has slowed things down, and led to unusually long flowering periods in many garden and wild plants, notably snowdrops. Had this slowing down not occurred all but the late-flowering varieties of daffodils would have finished by Easter, and an early Easter at that.

Many keen observers managed to find bluebells out in February, which is remarkable as it wasn’t long ago that March bluebells began to appear. Now, along the foot of warm south-facing banks the wild garlic or ramsons flowers are beginning – five or six weeks ahead of their traditional norm. Whatever next?

Bluebells and wild garlic growing in Skelghyll Woods near Ambleside, Cumbria.

Birds and insects have, though, been held back by those four chilly weeks. Many rookeries actually kicked off late, during the second week of March. The recent dry and intermittently sunny spell was too cold for most winged insects – no bad thing as they can be tempted to venture out before their allotted time, only to get caught out when the weather subsequently deteriorates and more normal conditions return. This jumping-the-gun has been a feature of recent springs (the exception being the late spring of 2013), and has been highly damaging.

Our wildlife is speaking to us loud and clear, stating how dramatically our climate is changing – particularly through mild winters. Our naturalists notice these changes. Now, more than ever, the UK needs its naturalists – and more of them – to become nature’s spokespeople and provide our decision makers with up to date information as to what’s going on.”