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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 11:44 GMT
Your signs of Spring
Blossoming apple tree
A blossoming apple tree in London (sent by reader Zoe Healy)
Last week The Magazine asked you to send in your sightings of the early signs of spring. There was a bumper crop - which may be cause for concern.

As we reported on Friday, the age-old signs of spring - which does not officially arrive until the equinox on 22 March - are arriving increasingly early.

The mild weather in the UK has brought apple blossoms into bloom - apple trees typically do not flower until April or May - and primroses have been spotted across the country when it is more usual to see them appearing in February.

Jill Attenborough, of the Woodland Trust's UK Phenology Network, says there has always been extraordinary flowering events - the odd rose flowering at Christmas, for example. But the variety and quantity of things spotted this year is quite unusual.

The first frog spawn has already been seen in the south-west, when its normal time is January, February and March, according to the Network.

Dangers

One particular danger is if, as the Met Office has warned, the UK gets a very cold winter. This could mean that species which have thought spring had come suffering badly.

"We're all waiting to see," says Ms Attenborough. "We've had a very warm autumn so lots of things are being lured into a false sense of security. If it's mild in November and December but cold in January, I think there will be problems."

"It's increasingly the case that we have seen very early springs. I think people are also more tuned into looking for it - but it's definitely happening."

Research needs to be done, she says, on whether some species of plant, such as fruit trees, actually need a period of cold to make them go dormant.

Ducks
Ducklings in Nottinghamshire (sent by reader Susan Johnson)
In the New Year, the Trust will again be organising Spring Watch with the BBC for gardeners to look out for signs of spring. But in the meantime, here are some of your sightings.

Our blackcurrants have already started to bud, and I'm still seeing both butterflies and wasps on a daily basis.
Alex, Newbury

The lilac tree in my garden has just started to flower and it still has barely lost a leaf. Normally it has just about lost its leafs by now and it flowers in May! I have also seen several primroses in flower.
Karen , Walthamstow

I keep three azalea bushes in planters in my garden for their spring colour. BUT they are all in 'plump' bud now (6 Nov!) I just hope I don't lose them completely with the first frost and have nothing cheerful in the planters come springtime!
Chris Walton,

This week my children and I have spotted: a red admiral, bees, spring blossoms and a grass-snake basking in the sun. All in our garden here in Sussex!
Laura, East Sussex

Violets in flower, forsythia flowers, weigela flowers. Photinia bush with new red leaves and flowers, a red admiral butterfly in the garden and my poached egg plants are flowering!
Mrs M. Barker, Wellesbourne, Warwick, UK

I thought I was going mad this week when I noticed some blossom on one of my weigela bushes - they usually only bloom in May! Mind you, today is (finally) the first chilly day we've had in Surrey this Autumn - so maybe this is the start of that promised 'extra-cold' winter? Hope so!
Delia S, Godalming, Surrey

SIGNS OF SPRING
Late Jan: snowdrops
Late Feb: primroses
Early March: bumblebees and frog spawn
Late April: first swallows arrive
UK Phenology Network figures
I live in a houseboat and was shocked to see baby ducks and waterhens have been born in the canals of Amsterdam during the last week of October.
Wendy Sheridan, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Mid October 2005 in Abingdon and my crocuses were in full bloom. The daffs and tulips remained hidden, however. No blossom on the fruit trees either.
Duncan Williamson, Bucharest, Romania

Just noticed this morning that the clematis around my garage has opened in full bloom. Strange days indeed!
Robin Fanner, Preston, UK

Well the squirrels seem puzzled by the weather and have even stopped storing their winter provisions away ! They're usually in a mad hive of activity at this time, but they seem to be practically strolling across the lawn and sunning themselves this year !
Ashley, Oxford

My rhododendrons are flowering (usually May), as is my berberis (usually April-May). Things are very confused!
Caity, Rayleigh, Essex

I've got grape hyacinths coming up - and some other bulbs too by the looks of things. And I walked past a tree with pink blossom on this morning on the way to work!
Nicky, Stratford, London

One branch of my apple tree blossomed two weeks ago.
Lisa MTT, Cambridge, UK

The roses are all out here and many plants, especially the grass, are still growing.
David Jones, Manchester, UK

A bumble bee on a crocus
Bees in November? Surely some mistake
I have a white Lilac tree in my garden and it has started to flower (again). Also I have seen a few bees out and lot of mosquitoes!
Tony Mulcahy, Richmond, Surrey. UK

I saw sunflowers blooming in the garden of a house in central London!
Gillian, Roehampton, London

My Daffodils planted a few weeks ago are now starting to sprout up. I keep covering them up with my soil, but they keep on growing.
Rosie, Birmingham

Heard the first lawn mower of... autumn, my own, on November 1st. Never cut grass after the clock change before but pleased I took the rare opportunity!
Chris, Cambridge

Tiny ducklings walking around last weekend. I wonder if they'll make it through the winter.
Alice, Brussels, Belgium

Very surprised to see primroses in flower in a garden here, this morning. T shirt weather at the moment!
Kathryn Coddington, Doettingen, Switzerland

This week I drove past some yucca plants in full bloom outside Burton on Trent police station. I've also been collecting the last few outdoor tomatoes and wild strawberries from my garden. In November this really does seem bizarre!
Tim, Derby, England

I have two tortoises a male and female - by early November they are usually hibernating - but not this year - they are still wide awake and busy doing what male and female tortoises do in spring!
Paula , Dartford, Kent




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