It’s been a winter of weather warnings with wind, snow, rain and fluctuating temperatures.
This erratic weather is now turning milder and we’re starting to see some of the traditional signs of spring earlier than normal. Halleluiah, I hear you say!
So shake off those January blues and head over to Beningbrough to see some tell-tale signs that spring is just around the corner.
In 2016, 300,000 blubs where planted by visitors along the ha-ha walk and the snowdrops are now starting to return in all their glory.
You’ll also find winter aconites. These “spring ephemerals” flower early using the full sunlight before the trees come into leaf. The crocuses and daffodils will follow to create a wonderful carpet of white, blue and yellow.
Hazel is the tree of the month. Its yellow catkins, hanging in clusters, bring a hint of colour against the grey February sky. The catkins are already appearing on the hazel trees along the ha-ha walk and in the community orchard within the Walled Garden.
Beningbrough is well known for its rare and characterful trees dating back years. Look out across the parkland as you walk along the south lawn and you’ll see the magnificent Cedrus deodara, the national tree of Pakistan. This much-loved tree has a very stately presence.
Since there is no foliage on the other trees, this evergreen really stands out.
If you’re inspired by the BBC’s Winterwatch, come over to Beningbrough and discover all the garden birds busy preparing nests. Look out as you walk amongst the trees in the American Garden where the feeders are and along the ha-ha for all the activity.
There are plenty of blue tits and great tits who are becoming noisier too looking out for a mate, so listen closely.
Over in a quiet corner of the American Garden there is a small pond which will soon become full of life. Toads, frogs and newts hide in the long grass around the pond.
February is the time when amphibians come out of hibernation and frog spawn fills the ponds. It won’t be long before the tadpoles are hatched and the pond is bubbling with activity.
Bulbs are for sale in the shop, some from nearby nurseries plus a table full of those grown at Beningbrough. So if you’re busy getting ready for spring in your garden, take a bit of Beningbrough back with you to plant at home.
You know spring isn’t too far off when you reach the first school holiday of the year.
Open on weekends through February and during half-term week, Feb 10-18, 11am–3.30pm (closed Monday 12 February)
Beningbrough is brilliant for families. Every day you can pick an explorer backpack to guide you round the gardens on the lookout for bugs, birds and bulbs appearing.
As you go, grab your own owl mask to follow the trail while enjoying the ‘oh wise owl’ sculptures in unexpected places. It’s the trails last month, so not to be missed.
There are also special owl-themed activities planned for most days during the week including storytelling, crafting, trails and nature walks. Take a look at the website for the holiday activities.