March 2018 roared in. Despair and restoration within just 4 days of roller coaster weather.Beginning with the coldest March day since records began, and widespread disruption around the UK from heavy snow, although we had the consolation of only a light dusting. Nevertheless, our landscape and garden were under the cosh after a week of gale force freezing winds, registering minus 13 degrees C in many places of the garden at dawn, and dusk.
Plants suffered severe freeze drying. The hellebores seemed to have all been finished off for the year, snowdrops were flattened to dark green limp mats. Only the Crocus tommasinianus, Iris reticulata and Scilla mischtschenkoana seemed to stand up to the onslaught, but by the time some warming respite arrived on March 3rd, even these were battered. And then come late afternoon, a dusting of snow fell again, just as plants were showing signs of reviving.Our stream had frozen over completely in places – something we’ve never seen before.Later on in the afternoon of March 3rd saw a quite heavy snowfall for a couple of hours.But at last on the morning of March 4th, the temperatures rose and rain arrived. By the late afternoon, the snow had all gone, the sun shone briefly, and amazingly, the bulbs began to bounce back!
A truly amazing recovery from the most severe conditions. But it was 2 days before I could lever out the ice from our half barrels – still about 5 inches thick and several more days before it had completely melted.
At last on March 14th whilst hand pollinating the Crocus for the umpteenth time, since almost no insects have been around yet this year, I found a single solitary bee resting inside a Crocus chrysanthus “Cream Beauty” flower. 2 days later on the 16th, 2 bumblebee queens on the wing, but this year the Crocus are now almost completely over. Hellebores, Pulmonaria and Pieris will have to keep them going until other blooms open.This is weeks later than I’ve ever recorded them in umbers before. However another severe cold spell with more North Easterlies, and hard frosts around March 18th flattened everything once more. Snow fell again. Spring proper still seems a long way off, with the currently very accurate Met Office forecasts showing no double figure temperatures before the middle of April. These icicles on our roof on March 18 th tell the story of just how bitter this March has been.
By the month’s end, we had at least enjoyed a little more sunshine, but the PV total for the month, at 257.7 KWH was fairly average, and the rainfall at 196.3 mm reflected what a disappointing month it has been. There will still be snowdrop flowers in April, but very few daffodils out so far – the usual well planned for progression has come unstuck this year. The final photos also illustrate how many hard frosts we endured. “Harmony”, our first lamb of the year arrived without fuss early on the morning of March 31st – we’d been expecting better weather by delaying when we put the ram lambs in. As you will see from early April’s notes, this didn’t materialise, with the wettest 48 hours for over a year beginning on the evening of April 1st.