In Northern California where I live, we have two seasons, Summer and Winter. There are parts of Southern California where the winters are so mild, it seems like one long summer. I have also lived in England, so I know how beautiful it is to see the first signs of Spring heralding the new season when the spring bulbs burst into bloom, followed by the flowering trees and shrubs.
A couple of years ago, I was visiting North Carolina in March, where I experienced the arrival of Spring. It gave me a sense of the change between the seasons. I was staying in Raleigh, but spent my time in the Triangle, which is the area between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and it is spectacularly beautiful. This is known as the Research Triangle because of the many Technology Companies that have moved in to the Research Park and is one of the most innovative parts of the country, It is also very academic with three of the top research Universities, Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Arriving in Raleigh, the most noticeable hint of spring was seeing the daffodils go from tight buds to opening up their cream and buttery colored petals. Daffodils are synonymous with spring and no one described it better than Wordsworth ..His words are just as meaningful today as they were in 1807 when he wrote them:
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”.
You cannot have spring in the Carolinas without Magnolias, They come in many varieties and painterly colors from snowy white to pink and burgundy to purple. Some had been in the ground “forever” and were as big as trees, growing alongside the houses reaching higher than two storeys. When I arrived they were tight buds but within a short time they seemed to awaken from their winter slumbers as the petals would unfurl and open into multitudes of beautiful tulip shaped flowers, covering the trees.
The North Carolina State Flower is the Dogwood a staple of the Carolinas. I had never seen a Dogwood until I visited High Point in North Carolina in my first year in the United States, where they grow wild in the meadows and their prolific, waxy blooms confirm that it is spring. They are creamy white with abundant flowers that are long-lasting and light up the landscape.
There were flowering apple and cherry blossom trees, some of them growing on the sides of the road, huge trees that commanded their space with majestic splendor, and in my mind, it brought to life the French Impressionist landscape paintings, painted by Camille Pissarro in the 1800’s. If you don’t believe me, look for them on Google – they have been re-invented in North Carolina.
The forsythia always reminds me of England, where I would go to the wholesale flower market very early in the morning to find branches that were in bud and would burst into bloom after coming inside to a warmer temperature where they would open to reveal their bright yellow flowers,. In the Carolinas, they are cultivated mainly in the gardens but you will also see bursts of yellow forsythia growing haphazardly in the fields.
One of the last flowers to bloom while I was there was the wisteria with an erotic perfume that can be overpowering. The flowers hang in clusters from their vines, in delicate shades of blue, lilac and purple. The wisteria flowers are fragile and short-lived. A gust of wind can disperse their buds prematurely. As it gets warmer and their flowers drop, the leaves take over from the flowers that disappear for another year.
Wishing everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, which ever country you are in, where ever you are, a happy Spring and Summer. Put on your summer clothes and get busy with all those summery activities, because it is guaranteed, in another few months, Climate Change or not, it will be Autumn, followed by winter. Let’s go out and play.
Where to find Spring ? Everywhere.
How much does it cost ? Nothing.