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Why Do Trees Wake Up In Spring?

As we emerge from another winter, we are coming out of the cold and dark nights and into lighter, warmer days. Not only are we getting more daylight, but we are also seeing a visual feast blooming all around us.

Signs Of Spring – What Should I Look Out For?

The Emerging Carpet Of Wildflowers

Primrose, lesser celandine, wood anemone and bluebells are spreading across the forest floor. Wood anemones come just before bluebells bloom and the flowers turn their heads to follow the sun! Instead of spreading and growing through seed, they spread through roots which are a great indicator of ancient woodland.

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Bluebells

The sweet-scented bell-shaped flowers droop off delicate stalks later in the spring season.

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Wildlife

Wildlife of all kinds is slowly waking up and emerging out into the forests and greenery. March and April see bumblebees buzzing into spring as the queens emerge from hibernation in the search for nectar.

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Butterflies

Species such as the Brimstone, Comma, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral are called overwinter species, meaning that they continue to grow over winter, so keep an eye out for any of these fluttering about in early spring.

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Pond Life

Keep an eye out for frogs and a jelly-like substance clumped together containing the beginning of life.

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Listen Up

Early in the morning or before the sun sets, stop for a moment and listen to the chorus of birds. Peaking in May, birds will be singing loudly to defend their territory and attract a mate in the breeding season. TIP: The best time to enjoy this tweeting phenomenon is before sunrise on a clear day with low winds!

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It All Started Last Summer

The growth of new leaves that we see every year in spring is due to a complicated programme of changes within the tree itself. You might think that all the action is happening in spring, but if you look closely at the twigs during autumn and winter, you’ll see that they are already showing the promise of new blooms with tiny leaf buds!

These buds are formed at the end of summer when they have the energy to grow before the days get colder and shorter. These buds then lie dormant over the winter, waiting for spring to arrive.

Did You Know That Trees Have Hormones?

As the seasons change, and the warmth of spring comes, the buds swell. Hormones within each bud, such as cytokinin and auxin, play critical roles in bud bursting by promoting growth and encouraging cells to divide. These small changes happen within the buds themselves and have a big impact on our forests.

Bursting Into Leaf

As the new spring buds turn to leaves, they help the trees catch as much sunlight as possible during the long summer days. This means that trees are in a race against the clock to unfurl their leaves in time for summer to arrive! The leaves use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to turn into sugars, which then feed the tree whilst it grows and provides us with oxygen that we breathe; a process known as photosynthesis.

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When Do Leaves First Start To Show?

The first leaves of spring start to emerge from their buds between March and April every year. However, this isn’t an exact science. Due to weather conditions and climate, such as fluctuating temperatures, this can impact growth.

Extreme weather and temperature changes can cause damaged buds to vulnerable young leaves. Often, a warm winter can cause the tree to come out of its dormant state and its buds may break through too early.

How Do We Keep Our Forests Healthy?

It isn’t just extreme weather changes that can affect our forests. Pests and diseases can cause widespread impacts on forests. Forestry England has been safeguarding trees from these threats and protecting their future by doing the following:

  1. Growing From Seed:
    Forestry England has tree nurseries that grow millions of new trees every year to replant forests across England and create new areas of woodland. By growing healthy, strong trees they give them the best chance of surviving. As they are ‘homegrown’ this also means that they don’t need to source them from other countries which decreases the risk of importing new diseases and pests to current forestry. They also have staff that care for the seedlings as they grow. They check that they meet strict guidelines and standards of plant health and biosecurity.
  2. Diversity:
    It is well known that forests are more resilient when they are diverse. So increasing the diversity of tree species that are planted means the forests are better protected from pests, diseases and the effects of climate change. Finding tree species that are more resilient to these things is essential for plant health and to ensure a supply of sustainable timber for future generations.
  3. Taking Action:
    Sometimes it is necessary to remove certain trees to protect the others, keeping them alive and healthy. This change to the landscape may look dramatic and can be perceived as a negative thing, but the removal of these affected trees prevents diseases from killing a huge number of forest and woodland areas; protecting the future of our forests.Diseased trees can also put humans at risk if they aren’t dealt with. For example, if you are out enjoying a woodland walk, trees can become brittle, lose their branches, or fall completely. Once cut down, the wood can be left in the forest as deadwood to provide vital habitats for wildlife.

Make Sure You:

  • Clean your boots, bike and buggy after visiting woodlands and parks
  • Report any unusual symptoms on trees and plants by visiting Tree Alert
  • Take care of plants at home and at work to keep them healthy
  • Don’t bring back plants from abroad
  • Buy responsibly and source plants from reputable nurseries and suppliers

By doing these things, you can help make certain that forests remain healthy and safe for everyone to enjoy all year round.

The Paper Fact File

Paper is one of the most sustainable and recycled materials in the world!

Visit the Paper Fact File to discover the facts about paper’s sustainable attributes. Some might surprise you!