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Down to Earth: Why we should celebrate blossom season

After what’s been one of the wettest-ever winters, the arrival of spring - season of blossoms, blue skies, renewal and optimism - is sure to lift spirits, writes Cambridge designer Robert Barker

Blossom season - herald of brighter days ahead - should be celebrated
Blossom season - herald of brighter days ahead - should be celebrated

As I am writing this article, the rain is pouring down outside and, after one of the wettest winters any of us can remember, you would be forgiven for thinking the rain will never stop! The weather has been so bad, I wouldn’t be surprised if mildew was declared the official flower for the East of England.

On a side note, I overheard someone saying “it’s absolutely rodding it down” today, when describing the amount of rainfall taking place outside; an expression I hadn’t heard before and, despite the truth in the statement, it made me chuckle.

So, what is the best course of action to try to cheer ourselves up during such a soggy and slow start to the year? To keep myself going, I’ve been focusing on the glory of spring when it finally arrives.

I have always found that, in the years when we have had an extended winter, it is so easy to let spring pass by, almost unnoticed, which is such a shame. I wish in this country we treated the arrival of spring like they do in Japan. In March and April, the Japanese celebrate the cherry blossom festival, a centuries-old cultural tradition. Also known as ‘hanami’ - which means ‘viewing flowers’ - it dates back more than one thousand years.

Each year at the festival, Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms (Prunus ‘Sakura’) are celebrated to mark the arrival of spring, believed to be a time of optimism, renewal and new life. The short timespan of the blossom serves as a reminder of the impermanence of both beauty and life.

I appreciate that in England we aren’t able to celebrate the blooming of cherry trees en masse, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate spring and view it with optimism. As a nation, historically, we are aware of the importance of trees - even developers are giving better consideration to trees these days - and there are wonderful forests to visit, especially here in the east, not forgetting the amazing collection of trees at Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

The truth is, though, that spring can be experienced and celebrated almost anywhere. Like so many of us, a huge amount of plants and trees have been dormant over winter, patiently waiting as they have been battered by the elements. But now that the light is here, like us, they open up, breathe in the lighter air, and embark on a new start, a new beginning. Surely that is something worth celebrating.

See robertbarkerdesign.com for more.

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