Celebrating spring's joys

Embracing the anticipation of spring

Life & Style
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Spring is a time of overnight movement and anticipation of what happens next.

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The incredible joys of spring gardening - from a tangle of tatty leaves, fresh new growth on a loquat tree springs up and opens overnight.

The incredible joys of spring gardening - from a tangle of tatty leaves, fresh new growth on a loquat tree springs up and opens overnight.

ANTICIPATION is a large part of the pleasure of gardening. A daphne's smell, a full-blown rose, scarlet and gold autumn colour come and soon go but anticipating them keeps us enthralled for weeks.

As poet and author Robert Louis Stevenson said, "to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and true success is to labour."

Spring is anticipation on steroids, every day we look forward to tomorrow.

I swear that yesterday my loquat tree was little more than a tangle of tatty leaves, but this morning it was miraculously covered in fresh new foliage.

Already I'm wondering if it will flower this summer and, even better, finally produce some longed for golden yellow fruit.

More buds swell and open every day but once my excitement has settled, I start imagining the leaves, flowers and fruit that they will become.

Working in the garden keeps you on a perpetual high of anticipation.

Weeding my nerines a few days ago, I imagined them flowering next May, in front of sedum 'Autumn Joy' and backed by the crimson leaves of a late crab apple tree.

As the afternoon wears on and my back begins to ache, I look forward to staggering indoors and collapsing over a cuppa or something stronger.

Covid-19 has temporarily stolen our future but gardening restores it to us.

Even thinking about things I put off doing, like digging out a detestable variegated arum that's seeding among some japonica suckers, only increases my enjoyment in anticipating the activities I enjoy.

Gardening also feeds acquisitiveness though I hate admitting it.

First we have white hellebores, then we look forward to having pinks among the whites, next we want purple, then speckled, then some double purple speckled, hurrah, there's a yellow hellebore, so now we want double yellow . . . and so on, ad infinitum.

But it's lovely always having something to look forward to. Your favourite scents: Abeliophyllum blossom in winter, Gladiolus tristis in spring, lilies at Christmas. Shiny maroon peony leaves poking through the ground, gum tree bark after rain, the first medlars in autumn, the nodding flowers of poppies and Euphorbia wulfenii that swing upright as they open.

Propagating is another mega source of anticipation.

Last May I put some quince seeds in sphagnum moss in the fridge and planted the four that sprouted in late August in a pot.

You can imagine my ecstasy a few days later when four pairs of leaves emerged.

I'm now anticipating the joyful moment when I'll plant them in the garden, to nurture into saplings and eventually, I hope, into quince-bearing trees so that one day I can make my absolutely very own, home-grown, quince jelly.

Covid-19 has temporarily stolen our future but gardening restores it to us.

Gardeners always have something good to anticipate, whether tomorrow, next week, next year: our gardens let us live the dream.

A. A. Milne's Pooh Bear understood anticipation.

When asked what he liked best he nearly said 'eating honey', until he remembered that the moment just before you began to eat it was even better than when you were, though he didn't have a name for that moment.

All gardeners know exactly how Pooh felt.

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