Several students have asked me recently when spring will arrive. The official first day of spring this year is the 20th of March, but there are plenty of other ways to measure it: the flowers you see in parks and gardens are just one of them. Often they can be the first signs of spring to emerge.
The first flowers to appear are the small and delicate snowdrops - and sometimes they really do grow up through the snow. These usually appear in January or February.
Next, in February and March, look for daffodils and crocuses, which are often planted in parks and by the side of roads. Daffodils are one of the national symbols of Wales, and it's also common to give a bunch of daffodils as a present for Mother's Day, which will be on the 10th of March this year.
Crocuses are usually yellow, white or purple, and look a bit like miniature tulips.
Finally, look for bluebells in April and May - one stalk of bluebells on its own is not particularly impressive, but they grow in their hundreds and thousands in woodland, to such an extent that the phrase usually used to describe them is a carpet! For example: 'the woods were carpeted with bluebells' or 'I saw a carpet of bluebells in the woods'. By the time you see them in such large numbers, spring is very definitely here.
(By the way, these flowers are for enjoying, but not for picking - if you are in a park or woodland you can get into trouble for picking flowers, so it's best to leave them for everyone to enjoy.)
So, if you're in the UK and wishing for the end of winter, don't despair. The warmer weather is on its way (well, warm for Britain at least!).
Images taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @sandymillin, @VictoriaB52, @johannastirling used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/