Our Valentine's Day flower count

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The results from our annual Valentine’s Day flower count in gardens across south west England have shown that plants are defying the unprecedented wet weather across the region to show the early signs of spring.

Gardeners and volunteers at our places across the south west took part in the Valentine’s Day flower count which first started in Devon and Cornwall back in 2006.

This year 1,464 plants were recorded in gardens across the whole of the south est compared with 1,455 in 2013. In 2008 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded, marking the earliest spring so far recorded.

The highest numbers of flowers were recorded at Saltram in Devon with 153 blooms, while Lanhydrock in Cornwall saw the biggest drop in numbers of blooms from 136 in 2013 to 89 this year.

'The season at Lanhydrock is much later than previous years and we’ve recorded rainfall every day for the last 63. However, we have plenty of buds waiting to flower when the weather eventually improves,' said Tommy Teagle, Lanhydrock's head gardener.

What's to come this season?

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

'Gardens in the south west are usually the furthest advanced in the UK with early spring blooms which, this year, thanks to the mild weather and very few hard frosts, are slightly up on last year.

'There are some encouraging signs of spring with displays of snowdrops at Kingston Lacy in Dorset and cyclamen and spring bulbs at Killerton in Devon.

'In some cases things are a little behind; but the milder conditions, albeit very wet and windy, have so far not affected early blooming shrubs and flowers; although many are still holding back for drier and brighter conditions.

'The usual show stoppers are showing promising signs; there is a profusion of buds on camellias in particular, which are just beginning to open. Magnolias are also showing promising signs for a spectacular, if slightly later than normal, show. So let’s keep our fingers crossed for a frost free finish to winter,' he added.

A rare bloom has also been discovered in Cornwall this year with the flowering of Trelissick’s rhododendron magnificum plant for only the second time in 30 years.

This enigmatic plant was discovered growing in the remote, rain drenched Adung Gorge in northern Burma in 1931 by Frank Kingdon Ward (the only location in which it is known to grow in the wild). One of the rarest rhododendrons in cultivation, it’s very tender and difficult to grow and is only found in a few of the mildest gardens.

As part of the flower count, we've been asking supporters what their favourite spring flower is, with the snowdrop coming out top as the most popular, followed by daffodils and primroses. Supporters also voted their top three spring flower gardens in the south west as Cotehele, Lanhydrock and Trelissick, all in Cornwall.