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Down to Earth: Spring reminds us to seize the day




The natural beauty spring brings is a timely reminder to enjoy the moment, writes Cambridge garden designer Robert Barker

Bulbs are among spring's greatest wonders, says Robert Barker in his April Velvet column (1) (44781442)
Bulbs are among spring's greatest wonders, says Robert Barker in his April Velvet column (1) (44781442)

I am by no means going to pretend that I am a particularly pious man, but no matter what your thoughts are on faith it is extremely hard to not be stirred by the thought of resurrection. Especially this year when we are all crying out for a new start.

No season represents a new start more than spring. I love all of the seasons that we are lucky enough to experience in the UK, but spring definitely stands out as my favourite.

This hasn’t always been the case, however. As a moody teenager, my favourite season was autumn; I would listen to Nick Drake on my headphones, in a world of my own, finding solace in the cold air and the colours of the leaves that would create a collage of red, gold, brown and rust underneath my feet.

Because of these colours so many people choose autumn as their favourite season - but when you get down to the bare bones of it, particularly from a botanical standpoint, these colours are caused by decay. Spring is the complete opposite of decay. Spring represents being alive.

This spring is a particularly important one. We need it. Last year was a year of acceptance. A year to accept that we had to endure what was in front of us and for some endurance was accompanied by fear, pain and grief.

Even though things are still very different from what we used to categorise as ‘normal’, there is light at the end of the tunnel; this spring is a huge reminder of that. And we don’t just have to experience spring in our own gardens this year. We can spread our wings, brush off the dust and cobwebs and venture into a larger world where we can hear, feel and see the signs of hope that only spring can bring.

Bulbs are among spring's greatest wonders, says Robert Barker in his April Velvet column (1) (44781444)
Bulbs are among spring's greatest wonders, says Robert Barker in his April Velvet column (1) (44781444)

My favourite reminder of this is something that is so small, yet perfectly encapsulates the essence of our seasons - the simple garden bulb. I just can’t get over the fact that a bulb, something that can fit into the palm of your hand, can produce such an amazing spectacle. For most of the year it lays dormant, deep under the soil, but when the cold arrives it wakes up and starts putting all of its energy into producing such wonderful flowers in such a brief amount of time. This flower then lasts for a few weeks, and then gradually it wilts before returning back to its deep sleep until the following year.

It looks like, for now, we are over the worst of the storm that 2020 brought, and so should use the amazing display of natural beauty spring brings as a reason to live in the moment. Enjoy every drop because before we know it time will have passed, as all things do, even the greatest of storms.

See robertbarkerdesign.com for more.


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