Six signs that spring is on its way

A carpet of snowdrops at Beningbrough. Photograph © National Trust Images / Faye Parkes

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.

The flowers

The beautiful crocuses. Photograph © National Trust Images / Matt Clarke

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.

The trees

Hazel catkins. Photograph © National Trust Images / Kat Nellist

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.

The wildlife

A blue tit in the grounds. Photograph © National Trust Images / Ross Hoddinott

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.

The pond

A frog and frogspawn in the Beningbrough pond. Photograph © National Trust Images / Nathan Davies

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

Bulbs for sale. Photograph © National Trust Images / Kat Nellist

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.

February half-term

Have a great half-term explore Photograph © National Trust Images / John Millar

You know spring isn’t too far off when you reach the first school holiday of the year.

Beningbrough Hall and Garden

Beningbrough, York

Open on weekends through February and during half-term week, Feb 10-18, 11am–3.30pm (closed Monday 12 February)

More details

01904 472027

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.