An entirely random thought.
I stumbled on a site that has kept a record of the date on which a hazel bush has come into pollen each year. The theory is that the date a hazel produces pollen indicates whether spring will be early or late (for the sake of completeness, catkins came 9 days later this year than last).
I wonder if the defoliation of my beech hedge tells the same thing. Here, at the end(ish) of February our beech hedge is fully clothed with last year's leaves. I am pretty sure that last year, when spring came very early, it was only partially clad by now.
Records will be kept and the story will unfold. In the meantime, on the off chance that we have freakish beech hedge plants this year you can buy our own unguaranteed weather forecasting kit on our beech hedge pages until the end of the bare root season. Which is coming... when?
Just for the fun of it, and to show how wide the "weather window" can be, here we are at the very end of April 2017 and there is not a new leaf in sight on beech hedges in the south-west. Last year, from memory, they were in leaf at the beginning of the month.
Relax, enjoy, and watch your garden grow