Do you Remember The Winter Freezes of 1962-3 when Boxing Day Snow Lasted Until Mid-March? Or The Snows 0f 1976-1979. They weren’t the only severe winters, we’ve had them since records began as can be seen on various websites that mention severe weather.
Maybe the climate breakdown will bring more severe winters or maybe not. Maybe, like the last few years, we will get relatively mild winters with Spring Flowers in Jan
The Woodland Trust have recorded a Nature’s Calendar of plants that flower earlier and earlier. Many universities and researchers have delved into the mysteries of earlier flowering. Spring Flowers in Jan are not so unusual today.
Winter Flowers In The Sid Valley
This year several SVBG members took part in the BSBI (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) New Year Plant Survey. Other local people took part as well and whilst I can’t verify every plant on the list it is undoubtedly an impressive list. None of these plants would have been in flower during the snows mentioned earlier.
Of course some of these plants are doing just what is expected of them. Winter heliotrope is just living up to its name and is a winter flowering plant. But Shaggy Soldier is frost susceptible and would need to be in a very sheltered spot to have survived until early January. It’s not however impossible as parts of Sidmouth didn’t get any frost last winter .. though this winter has been somewhat colder.
I can however definitely vouch for quite a few of the plants on the list as I saw them myself, took photos of them and verified them via the iNatutalist app.
Here is the BSBI 2023 List for Sidmouth
Annual Meadow Grass, Barren Strawberry, Bush Vetch, Butcher’s-broom, Canadian fleabane, Common Chickweed, Common Daisy, Common Field-speedwell, Creeping Buttercup, Dandelion, Gorse, Groundsel, Hazel, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Lesser Celandine, Mexican Fleabane, Nettle, Oxeye Daisy, Pellitory of the Wall, Periwinkle, Petty Spurge, Pot Marigold, Primrose, Red Deadnettle, Red Valerian, Rock Samphire, Scentless Mayweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shepherd’s-purse, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sun Spurge, Wavy Bittercress, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Avens, & Yellow Corydalis.
Another plant this wasn’t recorded flowering but is growing very fast locally is Alexanders. Until around 1800 it was cottage garden vegetable mainstay in coastal areas .. it rarely grows more than a few miles from the coast. It’s now growing fast and can be seen along many a roadside and path in the lower part of the valley.