WINTER may be tightening its grasp on parts of the country, but spring has well and truly arrived in the west.
Gardening staff at Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway, were surprised to see a number of spring flowers already in bloom, months earlier than expected.
Only three weeks into the new year, daffodils and daisies have already sprung up in the flower beds at the Abbey, leaving gardening staff perplexed.
Dolores Hogan, assistant head gardener, said they had never seen this type of daffodil flower so early. "We wouldn't be expecting it for another three weeks – and it has already been flowering for about a week."
However, it is the thousands of red and white daisies, planted for the Abbey's spring show, that are causing the biggest headache.
"We wanted to have them for March and April," she said.
"We'd normally expect to have these flowers for spring when our visitor numbers start to rise, but people may just have to visit us earlier this year," she added.
Ms Hogan explained that the mild winter was also causing the verging around the flower beds to grow, something they haven't had to deal with before.
"We had a long list of winter jobs to get done, but we haven't had the chance because we've been held up with all these jobs we wouldn't expect until spring," she said.