First signs of spring

Stanley Park view - the italian gardens
Stanley Park view - the italian gardens
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ROSES are red, violets are blue, and Blackpool’s park rangers have been working hard for you.

Yes – despite heavy rain, frost and biting cold which is still gripping the Fylde coast, green-fingered council workers are out in force across the resort’s parks, planting hundreds of native trees, creating wildlife habitats, and finishing off a mass planting session of colourful additions to Stanley Park’s Italian Gardens.

But while crocuses are just peeping through and daffodils are making their first appearance, the 30 hardy staff braved the winter snow to tend to the resort’s 84 parks and open spaces.

So what can budding botanists expect to see in Stanley, Revoe, Bancroft, and Moor Parks, to name but a few, as they stroll expectantly, waiting for the first signs of spring?

Justine Hall, park development and ecology officer for Blackpool Council, said: “Many people in Blackpool would be surprised there are as many as 84 open spaces in Blackpool, but they are all so beautiful, and each one’s unique.

“The park staff are out all year, and are currently planting hundreds of trees across the town, including oak, birch, hawthorne, hazel and field maple.

“The winter was quite harsh, some trees suffered storm damage, while many in Stanley Park were infested with beetles and had to be taken down.

“But we have nearly replaced them all, and we already planted bulbs in October which will be showing now.”

Borders are now boasting snowdrops, crocuses, geraniums, lobelias, primroses, lavender and rosemary, while wildlife is busy getting ready for the year ahead.

Mrs Hall added: “It’s a lovely time to go out, as you can hear the birds at their most vocal.

“Migrating birds such as the chaffinch, wheatear, and the sandmartin are starting to come back, while robins and blackbirds are building nests, getting ready for breeding and being very vocal.

“We have counted 18 heron’s nest on their island in Stanley Park Lake, and we are busy creating and putting up about 30 bird boxes.

“We are hoping wildlife, plants and trees will thrive this year.”

The last of the year’s walks to sport long-eared owls at Marton Mere, led by the rangers, will be held on Sunday from 10.30am.

Other events designed to spot nature’s offerings include the Snowdrop Walk at Lytham Hall, on Sunday, and March 6, from 10.30am-4.30pm.

And if the antics of the parks department has inspired you, don’t be put off by the lows of six degrees Celsius this week, some plants will still begin to blossom if they are planted now.

Gardener’s to-do lists this week should include planting lily bulbs outside, or in pots, pruning large-flowered clematis, and buying potato and vegetable seeds ready to plant in early March.

Sean Pickup, director of the Garden Place in Blackpool, said the “grow your own” craze was ripening in Blackpool, with customers arriving in their hoards at the weekend.

He said: “The winter was particularly bad, and vegetable patches are becoming more and more popular, and this week is the prime time for getting your garden ready for spring.

“Gardeners should plant bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and tulip bulbs in autumn ready for spring, but because of the harsh conditions and snow, people might not have done.

“To make up for lost time, buy pre-potted flowering bulbs, which can be planted in your garden now.

“Vegetable seeds such as onions should ideally be planted in a greenhouse or behind glass until mid-March, when they can be planted in a bed outside.”