2020 Valentine's Day Flower Count results: it's a blooming numbers game

In a world where we measure this and measure that, one pleasurable thing that we do measure annually is the flowers blooming in the gardens we care for in the South West, for the Valentine’s Day Flower Count. As the Trust celebrates its 125th anniversary, garden teams have, for the fifteenth-year running, been out and about counting the number of blooms in flower.

Results of the Flower Count

Despite the recent and unwelcome visit of storm Ciara, but thankfully a lack of frost and snow, gardeners have reported a whopping 2663 plants in bloom; an increase of 13% on 2019.  So although not here yet, spring is officially just peeking around the corner.

The most prolific in bloom in terms of different types was camellia, with over 450 camellia varieties in the South West, and limited visits from Jack Frost have meant fewer than usual flowers have been spoilt. Usually you would see some browning on the blooms by now, due to frost or cold wind damage, but this year most camellias are really displaying well throughout the gardens. 

" Introduced from the Far East, camellias have become firm favorites here in the South West, and they remain popular for very good reason. You can get an abundance of flowers from November through to May or even June, and even after flowers fade you still have the glossy, dark green leaves creating a perfect backdrop for other plants."
- Ian Wright, National Trust South West Garden Advisor
Camellias in flower in Lanhydrock garden
Camellias in flower in Lanhydrock garden
Camellias in flower in Lanhydrock garden
" The flower count really marks the start of our season of blooms at Lanhydrock. Not only have we seen more than 155 species in flower, 84 of them are different varieties of camellia."
- Tommy Teagle, Head Gardener for Lanhydrock

Flower Count facts and figures

  • Gardens in Cornwall have seen an increase of 15% more blooms than last year, and Devon have gone up by 8%.  
  • Knightshayes followed by Saltram, both in Devon, have the most blooms out in any National Trust garden in the South West. 
  • Trelissick has the most blooms out in Cornwall, followed by Lanhydrock.
  • 2663 plants are blooming, 13% up on last year’s figure of 2,352.
  • Knightshayes recorded 208 plants in bloom.
  • Trengwainton in Cornwall saw the biggest leap, with 52% more flowers in bloom than last year.
  • In 2008 3,335 plants in bloom were recorded in Devon and Cornwall, marking the earliest spring so far recorded. 
  • Gardeners at 29 places across the South West took part in the annual Valentine’s Day flower count, which first started in Devon and Cornwall in 2006. 
A robin on a rhododendron in Lanhydrock garden
A robin on a camellia
A robin on a rhododendron in Lanhydrock garden

Gardens in the South West are usually the furthest advanced in the UK with early spring blooms and this year is no different, with a 13% increase in blooms. But generally we are seeing plants in flower that should be at this time of year.

•    In Cornwall there were 918 blooms compared to 795 in 2019 
•    In Devon there were 1136 blooms counted compared to 1050 in 2019 
•    In Gloucestershire there were 122 blooms counted compared to 145 in 2019
•    In Somerset there were 278 blooms counted compared to 250 in 2019
•    In Dorset there were 132 blooms counted compared to 96 in 2019
•    In Wiltshire there were 77 blooms counted compared to 16 in 2019

" 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"
- Ian Wright

Flower Count survey results

The snowdrop has been voted the most loved spring flower in a survey run on social media, narrowly beating daffodils, which had previously been voted number one for two years running. 

88% of people who took part in the survey have snowdrops flowering at home, and 89% have daffodils already in bloom in their gardens or nearby. National Trust gardens at Stourhead, Kingston Lacy, Stourhead, Cotehele and Lanhydrock have also been voted the most popular places to visit to see spring flowers. 

A robin in Lanhydrock garden
Robin and a daffodil
A robin in Lanhydrock garden

This year people who took part in their survey shared the wildlife they’d seen benefitting from spring flowers. Birds and bees have been seen in force, particularly on sunny days. One person shared that bees have been seen on their purple crocuses on days when the sun shone, and another spotted a bumblebee just before storm Ciara hit. 

Birds spotted enjoying the spring flowers have included robins, bluetits, sparrows, magpies, wrens, great tits and gold finches - with a number of people reporting having seen them by the crocuses, picking off insects that are attracted to the spring colours. Mice and voles were also reported to have tucked into some emerging tulips and bulbs. Other spring flowers that have been seen to be eaten by something include daffodils and primroses, bullfinches have been seen eating camellia and prunus flower buds, and gold finches eating left over seed heads.

Most popular spring flower in the South West, as voted by you

  1.  Snowdrop
  2. Daffodil
  3. Primrose
  4. Camellia
  5. Tulip

 

Spring flowers in bloom in our supporters’ gardens at the moment

(last year’s figs in brackets)

  • Daffodil 89% (66%)
  • Snowdrop 88% (71%)

  • Primrose 76% (33%)

  • Cyclamen 53% (30%)

  • Camellia 44% (9%)

  • Tulip 6% (11%)

  • Rhododendron 4% (5%)

  • Magnolia 3% (3%)

 

Top 10 gardens in the South West to see spring flowers as voted by you

  1. Stourhead
  2. Kingston Lacy
  3. Cotehele
  4. Lanhydrock
  5. Trelissick
  6. Lacock Abbey
  7. Killerton
  8. Knightshayes
  9. Dyrham Park
  10. Tyntesfield

 

Celebrating the National Trust's 125 anniversary with 125 years of dedication at Lanhydrock

85% of people believe that being in a garden is good for the soul and nowhere can this be better demonstrated than at Lanhydrock, where three of the garden team have a combined service of over 125 years between them.  

" Me and George Allen, Assistant Head Gardener, have been working in the garden here for 42 years and Kenny Harris Nursery Manager who looks after our plant nursery has just a shade under, with 41 years of service. Lanhydrock is such a big part of all our lives – we are passionate about the garden and the plant nursery and in the Trust’s 125th year are delighted to be part of that celebration."
- Tommy Teagle, Head Gardener for Lanhydrock
Three of the Lanhydrock garden team have a combined service of over 125 years
Gardeners creating the number 125 out of flowers at Lanhydrock
Three of the Lanhydrock garden team have a combined service of over 125 years