There’s so much more to spring than snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells. While flowers with bulbs and corms do have the advantage of stored energy to fuel their growth, catkins are already dancing, tree leafbuds are swelling and pavement and treepit plants are flowering. Armed only a little time and perhaps a hand lens there’s lots to see in spring, even in a city.
One of the benefits of city botanizing is the wide range of native plants and naturalised introductions which are thoroughly monitored by urban plant spotters. London is also an ‘urban heat island’ with higher temperatures than surrounding countryside because of the different way hard surfaces retain the sun’s heat. This additional heat can be problematic, for example making summer heatwaves more likely, but there’s a positive impact of warmer winter temperatures on plant flowering. On a grey New Year’s Day this year I counted 33 wild and naturalised plants in flower along the Southwark section of the Thames Path. Highlights for me were gallant-soldier (from Peru), narrow-leaved ragwort (from southern Africa) and once rare Jersey cudweed.