British gardens are set to see flower blooms a month earlier than before according to a new study, as the climate crisis dramatically changes the landscape of our gardens.
“The results are truly alarming, because of the ecological risks associated with earlier flowering times,” said Prof Ulf Büntgen, at the University of Cambridge, who led the groundbreaking research.
“When plants flower too early, a late frost can kill them – a phenomenon that most gardeners will have experienced at some point.”
On the surface, many gardeners may be pleased that earlier blooms may mean a longer growing season and the ability to grow plants that typically could not handle a harsh British winter.
But this it not true. A plants wake up from winter dormancy, they expect conditions to get gradually lighter and warmer, a short sharp cold snap, such as the ones we have seen in recent years, can kill them off.
The findings are hugely worrying not just for gardeners, but for whole ecosystems and the agricultural industry. Extremes in climate put both animals and plants at “unprecedented risk”.
Early blooms and late frosts may result in the failure of an entire crop.
When will flowers bloom this year?
The first blooms of the year are set to take place around April, a month earlier than previous years.
Researchers examined 420,000 recorded dates for more than 400 species, stretching back to dating 1793. The average date for the first blooms was estimated to be around 12 May up to 1986, but since then the date has been hurried forward by the climate crisis to 16 April.
Herbaceous plants, which include non-woody perennials and nearly all
annuals and biennials,
saw the biggest jump in their average bloom date.
They were recorded to be producing flowers 32 days earlier, putting these plants at the biggest risk.
Meanwhile, fruit trees blossomed two weeks sooner while shrubs saw a jump to 10 days early.
The last fully recorded year of blooms was 2019, which saw spring arrive a 42 days earlier than the pre-1986 average.
From the mid-1980s, there has been an acceleration in the rate of global warming due to the planet’s continued reliance on fossil fuels.
This is having a devastating impact on the natural world.