South West flower count survey

A robin by some daffodils in bloom

Signifying the start of spring, colourful flowers are a welcome sign of the longer, warmer days to come. While we can't carry out the usual Valentine's Day flower count in the gardens we care for during lockdown, we asked for your help to take nature's pulse by completing a survey to let us know what you could see in bloom in your garden, from your window or on your local walk between 12 - 15 February 2021.

Snowdrop and cyclamen at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

The results are in

Snowdrops have been voted as the South West’s favourite spring flower for the second year running. These hardy blooms are a symbol of hope and resilience and a welcome reminder that spring is on the horizon, with 93% of survey respondents having seen them in flower in their own gardens or on their local walks this year, up from 88% in 2020.

Snowdrop buds have hard tips that help them break through frozen soil, and their sap has a type of antifreeze in it which protects them from snow and frost. They’re perfectly suited to the cold and even snowy weather we’ve had so far this year. 

 

Runners up in the 2021 flower count survey

Daffodils were voted the second favourite flower, with primroses following closely in third place. 79% and 77% of voters respectively had seen these sunny blooms while carrying out their own Flower Count. Those that chose daffodils or primroses as their favourite flowers love their bright and cheery nature; one Flower Counter said ‘spring is well on its way when the daffodils are coming out.’  

 

The importance of nature

As well as providing an insight into how spring is shaping up, the flower count survey has also shown just how keen we all are to feel connected to nature during lockdown. 496% more people completed the survey over this Valentine’s weekend than in 2020. 

Last spring we also witnessed first-hand the importance of access to nature during lockdown when so many found time in nature beneficial not just for their physical health but mental wellbeing too. Thousands of people shared striking images of spring blossom to help lift people’s spirits with our first ever #BlossomWatch campaign. After the success of #BlossomWatch in 2020, we'll be celebrating blossom season once again this spring:

Taking time to observe nature was also key to flower count survey too, with one of the questions asking whether any wildlife could be seen benefitting from the spring flowers. Despite the cold weather, many reported having seen bees, particularly benefitting from flowering camellias and hellebores. Birds have been seen in abundance, with sparrows enjoying primroses and wrens grubbing around in the undergrowth. Wild rabbits have been seen nibbling the tops of crocuses, and blackcaps spotted with bright yellow faces from the pollen of camelia and witch hazel flowers.

 

Why count spring flowers?

The usual Valentine's Day flower count gives an indicator of what gardens are going to look like throughout the year. It also allows us to compare with previous years and see trends. From this we can build a picture of how spring flowers are affected by climate change.

This year, the survey results help us to look ahead to the season to come, and when garden teams are able to carry out the flower count we can see how that compares with our spring predictions.

For example, while 79% of people said they had seen daffodils in flower this year, that's down on 89% in 2020 - a sign that spring may be a bit later to come this year than last?

 

What's happening with the flower count in National Trust gardens?

Each year to mark the start of the season of blooms in our gardens, garden teams usually carry out a Valentine’s Day flower count, to give an indicator of what gardens are going to look like throughout the year. However, for the first time in 16 years, we've had to postpone the flower count due to lockdown restrictions. 

Following government guidelines, many gardens, parks and countryside in England are open for local people to exercise, with the safety of staff, volunteers and visitors from nearby communities remaining our priority. While teams are carrying out essential tasks, the flower count sadly cannot take place.     

The hope is to carry the flower count out in the summer, when lockdown restrictions have eased.

Couple walking through spring flowers

South West Flower Count year on year results 

Take a look at previous year's Flower Count results to see how spring in the South West has looked year on year.

Bird mid-flight at Trevose Head

Wildlife spotting tips and tricks 

Connecting with nature can bring a sense of continuity and calm. Whether it be on a walk, from your window or in your garden, here are some tips for looking out for nature.

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