Grapevine says that summer has arrived
Whisper it quietly, but summer may have finally arrived.
Temperatures were today a positively warm 23C (73F), leaving Shropshire basking in sunshine.
It is a welcome boost to a region that has suffered from a winter that brought three dumpings of snow, long periods of sub-zero temperatures and flooding.
The blue skies has also left the owner of a Shropshire vineyard feeling hopeful of a bountiful harvest in 2018.
Over the last three to four days, the bare hedgerows at Wroxeter Roman Vineyard, near Shrewsbury, have blossomed thanks to the warmer climate.
Vineyard owner, Martin Millington, said it is much needed after the long and cold winter.
“The fact that it has been as cold and wet as it has been, it has meant – as with most nature – that things were moving quite slowly,” he said.
“But since the weather has started warming up, things have started growing as fast at night time as they are in the day. The weather is warming the ground up and that promotes growth. In the last three to four days the hedge rows have gone from bare sticks to being filled with green leaves. Everything has suddenly gone green and that’s a sign that spring is here - especially now the first swallow of the year has arrived too.”
However, Mr Millington has been in the business for 24 years and said he doesn’t expect it to be the last of the bad weather.
“Mother nature can be very, very fickle,” he said. “Just as you think you have got everything sorted, she will sneak up behind you and say ‘I’m in charge’. It’s nice to have it now but I’m not really watching this current weather. I’m watching what will happen in a months time.”
In June 1995, the frost killed an entire crop at Wroxeter Roman Vineyard. And last year up to 40 per cent of the crop was wiped out by a spring frost.
But now Mr Millington has contingency plans in place for 2018.
He said: “Nice starts to the spring like this make people think that it’s going to be fantastic but I’m thinking about the weather in May because that’s when our crop can be killed with frost. However, it’s a nice cushion and we’ve just got to roll with what mother nature brings - but we’re hoping for a good season now.”
Mr Millington’s predictions could be right, as the Met Office is anticipating a change in fortune come the weekend with heavy showers arriving in Shropshire on Sunday. And temperatures in a week’s time are likely to be half those we are enjoying today.
In the meantime, there are a few days to enjoy the warm weather.
That means 170,000 daffodils on a spot high in the Shropshire hills are finally about the bloom.
The flowers are planted in a field 1,100 feet above sea level and facing north, the Gatten Valley daffodils have been later than most this year to come into flower.
This is the third year that Jane Hulton-Harrop has opened up her field to passers-by wanting to take in the most of the bright yellow view and do their bit for charity.
Visitors should use the postcode SY5 0SJ to access the site and donations can be made to Marie Curie in the red box on the gate post or to justgiving.com/daffodilfield
'A huge difference'
Those wanting to make the most of the spring-like weather this weekend will also be heading out to the county’s many garden centres.
John Anderson from Meadowdale Nurseries in Telford is hoping the sunshine will bring in a bumper crop of green-fingered gardeners keen to get their hands on a variety of plants.
“The weather does make a huge difference for us,” said John, whose family have run the nursery in Horsehay for 30 years.
“I am hoping that this sunny weather will continue in to the weekend. It will be a real boost for us.
“We are best known for our home-grown bedding plants and, while it is a bit early to be planting those up, people will still be calling in to stock up on their plants for the summer.
“We have been affected by the weather and we are a bit behind but we are hoping this sunshine will help us catch up a bit.”
Forecaster Grahame Madge said: “There will be bright conditions and some high cloud. Although there were some strong winds on Wednesday, these will drop away leaving calmer conditions for today. The picture for tomorrow is similar.” Once again there will be bright conditions and sunshine.
“The weather looks set to change on Sunday and there will be more in the way of showers which at times will be heavy. Saturday looks like being by far the nicest day of the weekend.”