Cornwall is famous for the early arrival of many flowers, particularly Magnolias, but at Trewithen the first Magnolia is blooming now, in mid January, for the third year running. One bud lost its protective leafy sheath on January 18th and is already showing colour.
Trewithen's head gardener, Gary Long, has started noting down the date of his first Magnolia flower each year and the change is quite startling. In 2003 it flowered on Valentine's Day, February 14; in 2004 it was almost two weeks earlier flowering on February 2 and from 2005 onwards it has flowered between the 18th and 21st of January.
"The seasons aren't just getting earlier they are blurring," said Gary. "We open to the public in March but I'm tempted to bring that opening date forward because by then people could have been enjoying the display for a couple of months."
Gary explained that it's not just the Magnolias that are adapting to the climate, but almost everything in the garden.
In the 1930s the lawns were given the first cut of the season in April. This year the grass was ready to cut by mid-January. And the hydrangeas are behaving in a similar way.
Gary explained: "Going by the text book you prune hydrangeas in March when they start budding, but they've already started so they need to be done now, in January! And what is even more bizarre is that the bushes still have last year's flowers on them because we haven't had a proper winter to kill them off."
Gary said that what we really need is a good cold snap to get everything back on track, but not until next winter because any sudden frosts now will wreak havoc with all Cornwall's early blooms and could ruin the magnificent Spring displays.