“The popular spring bulbs are valued for their brilliant flower colours and shapes,” says Matthew.
Top tulip spot: Hidcote, Near Chipping Campden. Every year 15,000 tulips burst into bloom providing a beautiful splash colour against the mellow cotswold stone of this magnificent formal house and gardens.
Other great tulip spots include: Sizergh Castle, Cumbria; Dyrham Park, South Gloucestershire; Upton House and Gardens, Warwickshire.
“Although they can be spotted throughout the year, these bushy-tailed creatures come to life as winter recedes and can be spotted foraging on the ground or roaming through the treetops.”
Top spot for red squirrel viewing: BrownseaIsland, Dorset. This island sanctuary, located within Poole Harbour and only accessible by boat, is a haven for wildlife. Thriving natural habitats provide great wildlife spotting potential, particularly for the often elusive rare red squirrel.
Other places to seek out red squirrels: Formby, Lancashire; Mount Stewart, Co. Down; Wallington, Northumberland.
“One of the earliest and finest signs of spring is a rook with nest building material held in its beak. You can spot a rookery in the tree tops or in old houses across Britain, with eggs appearing around early March,” says Matthew.
Top rook-spotting territory: Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire. Rookery building in the trees at Tattershall means visitors who make the climb to the top of the castle keep can enjoy spectacular local views and down into the nests below too.
Other great places to see a rookery: Tyntesfield, Bristol; Fyne Court, Bridgwater; Crook Peak, Somerset
“After the long winter, migrating birds return from milder climates to spend the summer. Spot chiffchaffs from March, with swallows and house martins usually arriving in April and swifts following in late April or early May,” says Matthew.
Top bird watching spot: Crom, Co. Fermanagh. Escape to 2,000 acres of one of Ireland’s most important nature conservation islands, full of ancient woodlands and picturesque islands. Watch the winter birdlife depart and migrants arrive from the south from our new bird hide on the shores of Derrymacrow Lough.
Other top spots for spring birdwatchers: Stackpole, Pembrokeshire; The Lizard, Cornwall; Blakeney Point, Norfolk.
“Newborn lambs are emerging on unsteady legs at farms all over the country,” says Matthew.
Top viewing spot: Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire. This working estate is still guided by the seasons and brims with new life in spring as lambing season arrives. With a substantial collection of rare breeds, Home Farm sees the arrival of approximately 300 new born lambs each year.
See more spring newborns at: Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire; Scotney Castle, Kent; Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion.
“Fields of bright yellow dandelions are a sure sign that spring is on its way – and a big help to bees and insects as they come out of hibernation, although possibly not for gardeners.”
Top dandelion spot: Attingham Park, Shropshire. The open fields of many National Trust parks and estates are perfect places for dandelions to flourish, such as just north of the mansion at Attingham.
Other great dandelion fields: Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire; Felbrigg, Norfolk; Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire.
“Over half of the world’s population of bluebells can be found in the UK and the delightful carpets of blue that cover our woodlands throughout late April and May are one of our greatest spring treasures,” says naturalist Matthew Oates from the National Trust.
Top bluebell viewing spot: Blickling Estate, Norfolk. Visit in April through to May and follow the winding paths through the great wood and pass through swathes of dainty English bluebells.
Other bluebell hotspots: Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire; Lanhydrock, Cornwall; The Vyne, Hampshire.
“One of the great signs of the arrival of spring is the so-called ‘mad March hare’ – as these usually shy and reclusive creatures can be spotted ‘boxing’ in open fields throughout the mating season.”
Top hare viewing spot: LymePark, Cheshire. The open spaces here are perfect hare-spotting territory during early spring. Head up to The Cage, an atmospheric hill-top hunting lodge, for great views across the park’s vast acres.
Other good spots for hare spotting include:
Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire; Mountain hare can be found on the Dark Peak Moors, Derbyshire
Irish hare can be seen on Divis Mountain, Belfast.
“These bright yellow bulbs are already beginning to burst into life, heralding spring as they spread outwards from the south west to the rest of the country,” says Matthew.
Top spot for daffs: Sizergh Castle, Cumbria. Wordsworth’s famous poem was inspired by a beautiful belt of wild daffodils in Cumbria. The wild variety found here has a particular beauty. Dora’s Meadow at Grasmere, created by Wordsworth in memory of his daughter, will also be open for daffodil-viewing under the National Gardens Scheme on 1 April.
Other top spots for daffs include: Kingston Lacy, Dorset; Chirk Castle, Wrexham; Gibside, Tyne & Wear.
“These astonishing goblet - or star-shaped flowers found on trees or shrubs are much admired seasonal icons, and for good reason.”
Top magnolia viewing spot: Nymans, West Sussex. This spectacular garden is famed for its amazing collection of rare and important plants. In spring the stars of the show are magnificent magnolias, underplanted with drifts of daffodils and grape hyacinths.
Also see magnificent magnolias at: Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey; Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall; Bodnant Garden, Conwy