SPRING is on its way with many scented plants in flower, according to National Trust gardeners.
They reported 1,737 plants blooming in this year’s 12th annual south west of England Valentine’s Day flower count - 34% down on last year’s figure of 2,644.
Although numbers are down on 2016, they are still higher than the previous three years.
For the second year running, Saltram in Devon had the highest number of flowers recorded with 176 blooms.
Gardens in the region are usually the furthest advanced in the UK with early spring blooms but this year numbers are down which shows spring maybe back to normal.
Experts said this year’s cooler conditions would mean the earlier blooms would last a little longer than normal as the flowering season was extended.
Ian Wright, of the National Trust, said: “Our gardens are full of buds ready to burst into flower, but spring isn’t here quite yet, but when it does it will be a good one.
“Alongside the usual signature plants of spring we are seeing such as magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons, what is often over looked is the amount of plants that have highly scented flowers at this early time of the year.
“They’re all out there advertising their presence by pushing out scents like perfume counters in a department store trying to attract their insect customers, which are few and far between at this early time.
“We have reports of daphne, mahonia, winter flowering honeysuckle, and witch hazel to name but a few all of which give off sweet heady aromas and, are well out in flower at many of our gardens such as at killerton, knightshayes, cotehele and hidcote.
“Some types of snowdrops and other early spring bulbs add to this annual attack on your senses producing subtle and beautiful scents.
“Now is the perfect time to get outdoors await the arrival of spring and hunt out nature’s sweet perfume.”
He added: “Comparing the number of plants across our gardens on a set day every year gives us a real insight into how our gardens respond to weather patterns, and is a useful ‘barometer’ for the season ahead.”