The Daily Telegraph
Nothing like a good frost to set us up for spring
After a dreary few days, a fresh spell of high pressure will loom over the country from tomorrow. At this time of the year that means bright blue skies and glittering frosts.
We have had a notably sunny winter. According to provisional Met Office figures, England has just notched up its second sunniest January in records dating back to 1919. Overall, England recorded an average of 77.6 hours of sunshine last month. (The brightest January, since you ask, was only last year, with 80.7 hours recorded.)
These clear skies are also ideal for night-time frosts, which are forecast throughout the country in the early part of next week.
Despite the road grit and the misted up windows and the blast of cold air when you walk out the front door and the faff of bundling on all the extra layers and the burst pipes and the expense of keeping the heating on and all the rest – I am yet to have my fill of frosts this winter.
Walking out into the garden at night, I feel the ground hardening beneath my feet. The moon shadow splits between the still bare trees and falls into pieces on the floor.
Sweeping open the bedroom curtains in the morning, it is as if a spell has been cast. At this time of year the birdsong amplifies with the rising sun. Birds are beginning to breed soon and now is a crucial time to keep your feeders filled to help them cope with the oscillating temperatures.
Frosts are also crucial for plants. Trees – particularly some fruiting species – require a proper period of dormancy to better stave off disease and store their energy. Bulbs, too, depend on a decent cold spell; in particular garlic, which needs at least one to two months with temperatures under 10C (50F) to ensure good development.
I feel much the same. There’s nothing worse than a warm, wet winter that limps into March: better to wrap up for a few more weeks and then burst anew into spring.