Sunday, 17 April 2011

Spring, springing

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I know that I should be thinking about Libya and the Yes to AV campaign and other matters of import, but in this house the number one, above the fold, full caps headline, front page news is: the horse chestnuts are IN LEAF.

I'm aware I am walking a fine line here. This could be charming and delightful, or it could be ghastly and fey. Also, for those of you with no interest in trees, it could be crashingly dull. But we artists are slaves to the truth, what can I tell you? And the thing that I am thinking of most is those damn horse chestnuts.

I did biology at school. I know how all this thing works. But I feel rather like those ancient cave women must have when they first saw fire. How the hell did that happen? Only a few days ago I was photographing fat, sticky buds. They were a low, earthy colour, a sort of pale nothing. Now, almost overnight, as if a directive went out from the Leaf Secretariat, they have exploded into a green so green that I need a new word for green.

This is old hat for those of you in the south, who have had leaves on the trees for weeks. Up here, there is the slow lag of time; the beeches and the oaks are still quite naked. Even the birches, which you might think would be ahead of the game, are just unfurling their first tentative leaves. But the verdancy (is that even a word?) is suddenly becoming more than a promise. I walk around, marvelling at the twenty different greens.

I don't think I ever loved spring that much. I thought it a season of tweeness: all those blatant daffs and cutesy primroses and the silly old Easter bunny hop hop hopping about. There was a great bluebell wood I remember from my childhood, with, even all these years later, a yearning fall. But spring was not my time. I liked autumn, which is the poets' season, all raging colour and death and woodsmoke. That was a proper season. There was nothing simpering about autumn.

Now I find spring a time of miracles. I gaze at each new growing thing with my mouth open in a cartoonish O. I exclaim out loud. How, how, how, I think, over and over, did that happen?

Quite unbelievable tulip:

17th April 1

Little blue unknown thing growing in the wild garden:

17th April 2

Stately hellebore:

17th April 3

My favourite dwarf euphorbia:

17th April 4


17th April 6

17th April 8

This is not a good photograph; I got the focus all wrong. But it does give you some idea of the greenness of the green:

17th April 12-1

Shrub whose name I have forgotten, with, ironically, forget-me-nots in the background:

17th April 9

Tulip with hellebore:

17th April 9-1

These will be irises:

17th April 13

The dear grape hyacinths, still going strong:

17th April 14

I was afraid this tough winter had finished my poor little acer, but look, look, it has survived:

17th April 15

Ornamental cherry:

17th April 16

Sun on the geranium leaves:

17th April 17

I liked this so much, I shot it twice:

17th April 18

The ladyships have been basking. There is no other word for it:

17th April 15-1

17th April 10

17th April 11

17th April 12

The hill in panorama:

17th April 19

And close-up:

17th April 20

You know, I think that this time last year it was snowing.


  1. Beautiful - I think the dogs seem to be toasting themselves!

  2. They were selling bluebells in the flower stand in Hampstead village (which is nothing like a village, but that's what the locals like to call it - they know nothing) and it reminded me of the bluebells we had in our garden in the country. The blue was the bluest blue you could imagine. So I know how you feel about the miracle of spring. It was by far the loveliest time of year in our old place in the country.

    Helena xx

  3. Do hope you are feeling better.
    Loving your spring pictures.

  4. Spring is absolutely my favorite time of the year (especially after spending my first 20 years in south Florida which is pretty much one long season) -- another winter survived, all that renewal bursting forth.
    I can really, really relate to your dogs. I almost collapsed on the lawn today myself!

  5. Euphorbia, as I'm fond of saying, should be renamed Euphoria. And you have hellebores too. None here. The utter joy one feels when spring Reveals Itself is unsurpassed. We are so lucky to still be thrilled by such things. Sending love.

    Ps. I now want a smart red coat, a bicycle and a poodle.

  6. Well, we may have had trees in leaf down here in sweaty old London for a while now, but it's only this last week that the chestnuts came out in all their glorious glory and added their candles to the final delight. And I love all this so very much, that having you loving it too up north in chilly old Scotland just feels like a sort of round song. Isn't it lovely? I say, and you then say Isn't it lovely? and by golly, it's ALL TRUE.

  7. I find myself saying this every year, but I cannot BELIEVE the blossom. And watching MCD Jr trying to pick it up is very funny.


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