This year’s Spring Colour Watch Blog takes in some of the fascinating stops on the two spring trail routes around the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood, created by Ben Oliver, Westonbirt’s Learning and Participation Manager. We hope you will be inspired to follow one of the trails yourself. A free leaflet describing the route of the trail is available when you pay on admissions, or from the Great Oak Hall information point.
This week’s blog visits a stop on the Old Arboretum spring trail.
The abundant pink flowers of camellia hybrid (Camellia x williamsii ‘Bow Bells’) usually don’t emerge until February, when they form the opening act to a succession of spring flowers from vibrant rhododendrons to saucer-sized magnolia blooms.
This year the specimen that you’ll find on the first stop of the Old Arboretum seasonal trail has enjoyed an extended flowering season; its first flowers appeared before Christmas and the shrub was in full bloom on New Year’s Day!
Many plants regulate flowering in response to environmental cues such as temperature and day length. Certainly, our unusually mild weather and limited winter frosts this year are likely causes for the extended floral display of this specimen.
Scientists believe that in future flowering times will become increasingly early as a result of changes in climate. One recent model predicted that for every 1oC that the climate warms spring flowering will begin approximately 11 days earlier.
As well as ‘Bow Bells’, an array of other camellias are already flowering nearby. The images below were taken within the last week.
Take a diversion up Savill Glade and you find a marvellous display of bright pink camellias on a large plant to your right.