Early flowers have 'lost' nature's timetable
Flowers at one of the Westcountry's most breathtaking gardens are flouting Mother Nature's timetable by blooming early.
Despite the continuing winter chill rhododendrons are bursting into life at The Lost Gardens of Heligan two months early.
Cornwall's mild winter, combined with the warmth of Heligan's sub-tropical jungle, has prompted the first of its historic rhododendrons to show off their magnificence.
Cindy Maddison, jungle supervisor at the popular tourist attraction near St Austell, said some shurbs were still flowering from the summer.
She said: "We noticed the first flowers on the rhododendrons when we returned in the new year, the bright pink blooms really shone out across the jungle. Unusually, beneath this rhododendron lies a hydrangea shrub which is still flowering from last summer."
Only last month Heligan reported the summer-flowering Cistus was blooming in the December rain.
Cindy said: "Colder temperatures forecast for the coming week may slow down these early bloomers but it's a real joy to be able to enjoy a preview of spring against the backdrop of winter."