The timing of phenological phases, such as leaf unfolding of trees, is partly driven by the weather. The impact of weather on the spring phenology of a selection of tree species in the phenological garden at Valentia Observatory, Caherciveen, County Kerry, Ireland, for the period 1967-2004 was assessed. In particular, the beginning of the growing season (BGS), as determined by the date of leaf unfolding, was considered. The impact on BGS of a range of meteorological parameters and derived parameters, including minimum, maximum and mean air temperature (°C), soil temperature (°C), rainfall (mm), sunshine (hours), number of air frost days and number of rain days was investigated. These parameters were averaged or summed over the months of February, March and April and linear regression analysis with BGS was carried out for several tree species. The results showed that the regression coefficients of BGS on minimum air and soil temperature were highest, with Populus canescens and Populus tremula showing the strongest relationships. Temperature parameters were found to be more important in driving advancing phenology than any other meteorological parameter tested.