British springs are getting more pleasant with the average temperature now one degree warmer than in the 1960s, bringing fewer frosts for gardeners, the Met Office has said.
According to records, the average temperature for meteorological spring – March, April and May – across the UK was 7.1 °C (44F) between 1961–1990, but between 2007–2016 this had risen to 8.1 °C. (46F).
The number of days with frost has also fallen from an average of 37 in the 1960s to 33 in the past decade. However gardeners were warned to be vigilant this weekend as Easter frosts were predicted.
Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre, said: “Within many people’s lifetimes, spring in the UK has become appreciably warmer. The average spring temperature across the UK has risen by about 1 °C and the number of days recording grass frost has fallen slightly, particularly for Scotland.
“Although the number of frost days in spring has fallen, it can still be an issue right through spring across most of the UK. We have seen relatively few widespread frosts so far this year, but this Easter weekend gardeners in rural areas, especially in northern Britain, caring for tender plants may encounter a ground frost.”
Gardening experts said growers should be on standby to cover their vulnerable plants if the weather took a chilly turn.
Guy Barter, the Chief Horticultural Advisor at the Royal Horticultural Society said: “Spring frosts have two effects: one is to damage young plants and newly-emerged flowers and leaves. The other is to kill tender plants, such as sweetcorn and courgettes, which are only grown outdoors in the period from the last to first frosts – usually from mid-May to late September in the south.
“Until the last frost, however, gardeners watch the weather forecast closely, ready to dash out and cover vulnerable plants with newspaper or horticultural fleece if a night frost threatens.”
Records showed that 1984 had the most spring frosts, with 47 frost days. 2014, which had just 23 frost days in spring, recorded the fewest.
The UK mean spring temperatures since 1910, reveal the three warmest springs have occurred in the last ten years: 2011, 2014 and 2007.
In 2011, the average UK spring temperature was 9.2 °C (48F). Of the top ten warmest springs since 1910, five have occurred since 2000.
However despite the warmer temperatures some plants are blooming later. By this time last year The Woodland Trust had recorded 379 bluebell sightings but there were just 139 this year.
The charity is calling on the public to help find out where bluebells are struggling by getting involved in its Big Bluebell Watch campaign.
People are asked to record their sightings on the map via the organisations website www.woodlandtrust.org and follow the Big Bluebell Watch link.