Visitors to Hampshire’s woodlands will have to get out quick to enjoy the seasonal show of bluebells as experts predict a short season this year, thanks to the exceptionally dry start to 2012.

As a consequence of the third warmest and the fifth driest March on record, bluebells were expected to come out for most of the county over the Easter holidays – but they won’t stay around for long.

The low winter rainfall means that bluebells could be smaller and less abundant this year, but the dry conditions could mean that they will be well-scented.

Matthew Oates, a National Trust naturalist, said: “The warm and dry weather of the last few weeks has sped up the flowering process for bluebells, but the absence of rain means that visitors will need to be quick to see them. It could be a short but sweet season for bluebells, and other classic spring plants like the primrose.

“The bluebell starts growing in January with its sole purpose to flower before the other woodland plants but in dry conditions the bluebell will flower less, will be less abundant and its growth will be stunted.”

Normally bluebells peak in a “Mexican wave’’ effect across the country, starting in the south-west and fanning out across the UK ,but dry and challenging springs can make them become more patchy.