The Cambridgeshire village of Thriplow held its first Daffodil Weekend in April 1969 to raise funds for repairs to the village church. It was such a success that it became annual charity event and, incidentally, created an archive of flower blooming dates.
Tim Sparks, an environmental statistics researcher, notes that over its five decades the Daffodil Weekend has gradually shifted, and is now held three weeks earlier than the original to coincide with earlier blooming.
Other countries have their own flower festivals, such as the century-old National Cherry Blossom festival in Washington DC, and Japanese cherry blossom viewing, or Hanami, which goes back more than a thousand years. Records show that after being a static calendar fixture for centuries, Hanami started to change at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. According to researchers at Osaka University, last year cherry blossoms peaked earlier than they had for more than 800 years.
This year, Tokyo’s cherry blossom season officially began when flowers opened on a tree at Yasukuni Shrine on 20 March. This was later than last year, but still several days earlier than usual.
Other changes may only be detectable with scientific instruments, but the relentless march of the blossoming season from April to March is a highly visible warning sign of our changing climate.