Chartwell is once again taking part in the National Trust Valentine’s Day Flower Count this year. Counting the number of flowers in bloom on February 14th each year became a Cornish tradition to assess the state of the gardens in terms of whether Spring is early or late and how harsh the Winter has been. It is also hopefully a useful indicator of how our plants are reacting to the changing climate. Giles Palmer, our Gardens & Estate Manager, is from Cornwall and he brough this tradition of the flower count with him when he became Head Gardener at Chartwell in 2007. It is hoped that this Winter’s freezing temperatures hit at a time when flower buds were at their tightest, giving plants the most protection to make a good recovery when temperatures started to rise. Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens & Parks for us here at the National Trust, has said: “Comparing the number of plants across our gardens on a set day every year gives us a real insight into how our gardens respond to weather patterns. It also gives us a useful ‘barometer’ for the season ahead.”
So, this morning, Anne, Rhiannon and myself spent the morning walking the gardens to count up all of the various plants that are currently in bloom. The total number of plants in flower this year at Chartwell was 30, which considering the harsh weather we have had over the last week, is not too bad! In fact, it’s our highest total since 2008 when the figure was 59 after a very mild Winter, and our 2nd highest total ever since we first started to collect this data. The figures from the past three years have been 26, 21 and 19. Much of the plants in flower this year came from our new Winter Border, details of which can be seen in previous posts.
A plant is counted as being in bloom if one flower is open or showing colour. When we say that there are 30 flowering plants at Chartwell right now, we of course mean that there are 30 different plant species, varieties or cultivars that are currently in bloom. There are many more individual plants that have flowers on and many, many more actual flowers on show for you to come and have a look at the next time you visit us here at Chartwell…