February set a new weather record in the UK, it was the sunniest February recorded. According to the Met Office there were 101.6 hours of sunshine in the last four weeks beating the high of 94.4 hours in 1970. We have also had milder winter temperatures, between December and February, the mean temperature was 4.8 Celsius (40.6 Fahrenheit), 1.1 degrees above the long-term average.
Plants and birds here seem to have noticed the difference. While most of the trees and hedges are still bare, there are individual hawthorn and blackthorn shrubs beginning to green up.
The birds have started nest building . We have robins building a nest in an evergreen climber (Trachelospermum jasminoides) growing up the back of our house. In previous years birds have nested in shrubs in our garden and we have watched birds going to and fro with beaks full of twigs and moss. Unfortunately, nearly always the neighbouring cats find the nest. We see a mess of feathers and the parent birds move elsewhere. This time though I am hopeful for this pair of robins, the nest is about eight feet off the ground and would seem to be in a safe position.
At my allotment I have started planting a few things early as the weather has been so mild but most seed packets suggest March as the month to start sowing and I have been patiently waiting.
The beds have been forked over and raked and now March is here I can get to work. Most of my seeds are sown straight into the ground but I also fill window sills with tender plants.
These pepper seedlings are the first this year, they have been in the airing cupboard for a few days to start germination and are now on the kitchen window sill. Their place in the airing cupboard has been taken by some tomato seeds, its a bit of a production line here at the moment.