2011 garden weather review

Sat, Dec 31, 2011

Climate Change, UK Climate Change

This year the earliest ever spring in the UK was followed by a miserable summer and a very mild autumn and winter.

Gardeners all over the country  were challenged by topsy turvy seasons.Here is a reminder of our UK weather month by month during 2011:

After the coldest December on record, the remnants of Decembers snow melted and although temperatures were lower than normal, wildlife flourished. The RSPB annual birdwatch survey chartered a record number of garden birds.


The mildest February since 2002 with Atlantic fronts bringing rain and high temperatures that produced early displays of snowdrops. Even the swallows and sand martins were tempted back from their winter holiday in Africa and many arrived back in SW England several weeks earlier than usual.

One of the driest and sunniest spings on record. Warm conditions encouraged butterflies such as orange-tips which normally appear in mid April . Many ponds dried out with such high temperatures making it difficult for tadpoles to hatch.Daffodils, tulips and most spring flowers appeared up to 6 weeks early.

The warmest April since records began in 1659 with mercury reaching 24c on Saturday 23rd April – the highest in April since 1949. Bluebells enjoyed a very early flowering and even roses poaked their heads out in my garden.The drought continued as very little rain fell and water companies started to make noises about water rationing.

In early May the UK countryside looked more like it normally does in mid June as the hedgerows filled with flowers and usually green fields turned yellow from lack of water. The drought produced fewer caterpillars which meant many baby birds died.

This photo was taken in London in late May .It clearly  shows how well  summer flowering plants such as geraniums did as a result of the very early spring but how many trees suffered from lack of water with their leaves starting to turn brown a good four months early.

Cool, wet weather brought grey skies but relief to many gardeners with worries about whether vegetable crops would thrive long enough to bring a bountiful crop.The Large Blue butterfly, reported extinct in 1979, had an excellent month and flourished in SW England.

The coolest since 2000 which meant that after the very warm spring, some plants thought it was autumn and fruits such as blackberries started to ripen, about a month earlier than usual.

August was a bad month with cool cloudy weather in the North and still very little rain in the South where reservoirs were lower than in any year since the great drought on 1976.  Flowers that had looked so beautiful in the early spring, died back very quickly.


As often happens now in the UK, this month was a glorious Indian summer with fine sunny weather across much of the country. Vegetables were in abundance on many allotments and all over the country many plants enjoyed late flowering attracting many insects that have normally disapeared such as crane flies.


The heat and drought continued with an October record of 29.9c .It was one of the best ever autumns for fruit and berries thanks to the cold winter frosts followed by such an early spring. Apples, hawthorn berries and acorns were abundant which was great news for squirrels, badgers and deer preparing for the winter.


Weather records continued to be broken with temperatues almost 3c above average. It was dubbed the second spring as many flowers such as primroses and buttercups flowered for the second time this year.


December has been equally mild with many spring bulbs well in advance and ready to flower in just a few weeks. This is bad news if we get a  cold snap as they will perish. My chilli plant is still proudly displaying a number of bright red chills and a red rose bush in my neighbours has flowered constantly since April this year.

What have you noticed in your garden as a result of this very weird year of weather? Please send your photos  and stories for inclusion in my new site launching Spring 2012 to [email protected] or post your stories here.

 Happy gardening in 2012 and to sharing more weather challenges at:


This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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