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UK gardens see explosion of winter colour

The UK’s gardens are seeing a rush of winter colour with plants held back by December’s cold spell all now flowering in sync, says the RHS, as it calls it the perfect antidote to Blue Monday (Monday 16th). With the temperature set to drop this week, the charity is expecting a prolonged display of winter favourites this year that will last well into February.

Witch hazels, winter-flowering honeysuckle, Japanese quince, hellebores, and snowdrops are all now in full flower after the heat and light of last summer promoted good bud formation, December’s freezing conditions provided the necessarily chilling that plants need to flower, and recent above-average temperatures promoted speedier growth.

With the forecast suggesting temperatures will fall very slightly over the next few weeks, this flowering is set to be sustained into February with flowers slower to ‘go over’ in colder conditions.

Last year, summer favourites such as salvias and roses flowered up until December in the south when temperatures plunged, making the last 12 months an exceptional one for gardens, the charity said, with very little down time.

Flowering in garden plants is triggered by a number of factors such as temperature and day length, and flowering time naturally varies from year to year, influenced by the weather, particularly in winter. Climate change will increase the variability of our weather and cause more frequent extreme weather events, which in turn could disrupt patterns of flowering.

Tim Upson, director of horticulture at the RHS said: “This year has already got off to a colourful start in gardens with plants exploding into flower all at once and riding out what has been a ‘see-saw’ year in terms of weather. Although spring has not yet sprung there is already much to see, with the flash of dogwood stems and heady scent of winter-flowering honeysuckle helping to chase the winter blues away and these dramatic displays are set to continue into February.”

As the UK marks Blue Monday, RHS research has long shown the benefits of gardening for health and wellbeing with research continuing apace in 2023. People who garden more frequently report lower stress levels and better wellbeing. Adding plants to front gardens was also found to lower stress levels as much as eight mindfulness sessions.

For more information visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/health-and-wellbeing

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