Phenology – studying the timing of natural events

Spring is upon us and with it comes the timely break of the trees’ dormant period.

Trees in the streets, parks and gardens, not least forgetting the wild woods, are now ablaze with an explosion of flowers.

From vibrant pinks through to paler shades, yellows and brilliant whites, all now attract the hum of bees and insects that disperse pollen between them.

You can almost watch the daily unfurling of blossoms on magnolias, cherries, almonds, blackthorn, pear, plums and pussy willow.

This spring appears to be a particularly good showing as we’ve had a relatively mild and wet winter.

After the flowers start to fade there then follows the procession of tree species starting to break bud as their leaves unfurl into full canopy.

First to show are usually the elder and then out comes the willow, hawthorn, horse chestnut, rowan, birch and beech.

Then, towards the end, oak and ask, which can switch their bud burst date year on year as shown with the well-known old wives tale: ‘Oak before ash we’ll have a splash, ash before oak we’re in for a soak.’


Here’s a link to a tree phenology website study:

have a look to see how to get involved.