Cherry blossom is coming out over London. It usually blooms over Easter, but this year the bloom has arrived up to four weeks earlier due to the mild winter and warm spell last week. The flowering season has added colours to the streets of London once again.
“I walk through Haggerston Park to Hoxton station daily to get to work. The cherry blossoms astonish me, they’re snow white these days! It is a welcoming sight!” said an excited Hazim Muhammad, a trader who also admitted to have just gotten back into gardening.
“When cherry blossoms come, that’s when you know . The warm weather has got me excited all over again. It’s amazing that it’s earlier this year, I don’t think anyone is complaining,” he added.
According to Dan Williams, an official from the Met Office, the weather has been particularly mild in England and southern parts of the UK and that has affected plants growing patterns.
Londoners are advised to take full advantage of the weather however, as the timeframe to celebrate ‘hanami’, the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers, might come to an end unexpectedly. “The weather will fluctuate across the UK in the coming weeks,” added Williams. ” Temperatures in England will be mixed with some above and below average. “The temperatures were much colder last year. Information we have so far says that it has been 1.1 degree Celsius above average this month. March 2013 was much colder, with statistics showing that it was 3.5 degrees Celsius below average,” he added.
The mild winter recently passed, however, could pose a threat for gardeners in London as pests and diseases are not completely killed off. Sally Fletcher, of Alleyn Park Garden Centre said, “ The current warmer weather won’t necessarily cause big problems, but instead it provides amazing opportunities as plants grow much more easily.”
Jenny Bowden, RHS Horticultural Advisor, said that an earlier start to spring doesn’t come of as much of a surprise. “There has been rather a lot more warmth this spring than usual and coming after a mild winter, so it is no surprise that the season is early. “It appears that the season is about two weeks earlier than usual with plums, pears and magnolias in full flower a fortnight before we expect them,” she said.
She added that there is an urban heat island effect in London and as such the area warms up generally much earlier than the surrounding region. Gardens generally do very well in this environment, so a little extra warmth should not come amiss. “In London, hard frosts are much less likely than other Thames valley areas so I would be surprised if fruits are harmed by untimely frosts here, but it could happen.”
Some experts say that mild weather favours beneficial insects. Pests’ natural enemies may be numerous and the lack of winter cold insignificant. “Our entomologists (insect experts) believe that pests are not greatly inconvenienced by cold winters. Diseases might persist in mild winters and still more in the warmer city districts but in fact there seems little evidence that this will be significant.”
With April coming up very quickly, gardeners in London can look forward to the increased buzzing of bees, as spring really gets under way.