Spring may be the most hopeful season.
There is nothing more uplifting than seeing Nature reborn every Spring. It’s like an assurance that life will get better again, no matter how tough the dark days of Winter – or life – have been.
Between March’s Spring Equinox and the start of Summer on the Solstice in June, the days get progressively longer, dousing us in light, and sparking the renewal of life after a long, dull winter.
So it’s no wonder that so many ancient cultures celebrate Spring’s light and new life.
Or why we are still so enchanted by the signs of the new season.
None are quite so colorful as spring flowers peeking through the snow or opening on trees or brightening fields. Since the earliest of times, humans have cultivated their outdoor environments for both nutritional, and inspirational purpose.
Spring gardens feed the soul with wonder in the annual renewal of life, and the strength of even seemingly fragile organisms. There’s a parallel to human life our inner, primitive humans recognize.
If ‘April showers bring May flowers’, here’s the start of a Spring travel ‘bucket’ list to capture the essence of the season.
Keukenhof Garden is the largest spring flower garden in the world, planted with millions of spring bulbs. The garden is an orgy of vivid colors every Spring, but more than tourist attraction, it’s a calling card – or even business card – for Dutch spring bulbs, the Netherlands’ biggest agricultural product.
The garden serves as an outdoor sales convention for international buyers looking at the latest flowers offered for sale by Dutch growers.
Ottawa Tulip Festival has a Dutch connection, too. During WW2, the Dutch Royal Family took refuge from their war-torn country. In gratitude, every year, a huge shipment of Dutch bulbs makes its way across the ocean to Canada’s capital, where they bloom in Spring in parks throughout the city.
Cherry trees are native to many countries, but the ancient Japanese were the first to immortalize the delicate beauty of their pale blossoms in poetry, song, arts and crafts, and aristocratic festival. Cherry blossom viewing (pictured, top) has become a cornerstone of modern Japanese culture, but things have changed a bit since the Shogun strolled under the trees surrounding their castles.
Today, public parks become packed with groups of friends, families and co-workers who picnic and karaoke underneath the gently falling petals that remain a symbol that life is fragile and fleeting.
The Japanese have shared their national adoration of cherry blossoms in friendship with communities globally. Perhaps the most spectacular are the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C whose blossoms outshine even the magnificent monuments of the capital for a short time early every Spring.
In Canada, the quaintly-British colonial port city of Victoria rises out of the gray mists of the Pacific Northwest winter with the arrival of clouds of mystical off-pink of cherry blossoms, especially at its world-famous Butchart Gardens.
LUPINS and BLUEBONNETS
Canada’s East coast has something in common with the state of Texas, and it comes in the form of a native, early season bloom.
Texas bluebonnets carpet roadsides in a single, vivid hue. Their maritime cousin, the lupin, creates a mosaic of a wider variety of colors from rich orchid to bright pink, pure white and pale lavender, all the way to the royal blue of its Longhorn State cousin.
AND OTHER 'RHODIES' TRIPS, TOO
The list of floral tributes to spring – and the trips they inspire – could go on forever. Rhododendrons and azaleas in Asia, the Pacific Northwest and the American South. Fields of daffodils across England’s green pastures.
Even the gardens in your own home town or backyard.
Wherever you find yourself this Spring, we hope you spend time outdoors, glorying in the arrival of a new season full of hope and color.