Spring in the City: first signs of growth

Hornbeam leaves

Image: Amanda Tuke

There's nothing quite like the first signs of spring in the city after winter. A time of new beginnings, new plant growth and colourful flowers start to make an appearance from February onwards.


Some of spring's first flowers are also some of the most colourful, erupting on verges and in gardens with whites, blues, yellows and purples.

Snowdrops are often the first flowers we can spot, breaking through the frosty ground of early February. 

Crocuses soon follow, along with other early bulbs such as iris.

Daffodils spring up in huge swathes towards the end of February and into March, their cheerful yellow bloom taking over parks and verges.

Catkins and tree buds

Early spring is a time in which trees burst into life after a winter spent dormant, with buds ready to open once there is enough sunlight.

As well as more recognisable blossom, you may spot less familiar tree flowers - catkins of hazel, birch and alder. Each tree species has its own specific annual schedules. Some trees flower before their leaves sprout, while in other species, leaves appear before their flowers. These different timings can help us identify which species it is we're looking at.

Did you know?

Catkin is derived from the Dutch word katteken, which means kitten, since the flowers look like fluffy kitten tails.  They’re also known as lamb’s tails, with another association of spring.

A time for more than just snowdrops

Gallant Soldier

Gallant Soldier

Image credit: Amanda Tuke

Botanist-in-learning Amanda Tuke guides us through some of the city's lesser-noticed plants and flowers that can be found growing in the hidden corners and ignored spaces in our city - from pavement pioneers to wind-pollinated flowers and other woodland plants.

Read the blog

Activities and spotter sheets

Spotter sheet for spring tree buds

Discover spring near you

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