Enter Spring

Magnolia blog

Magnolia Flowers (21 cms x 29 cms acrylic and pencil, 2016)

“Every year, there’s a day when Spring suddenly stops being a tease and goes the whole hog,” wrote naturalist Simon Barnes in the Sunday Times a couple of weeks ago, “And, of course, it’s ravishing: the light turns an unabashed gold, the sun offers actual warmth, chiffchaffs arrive from the Mediterranean to pour down their twin-syllabled song from the canopy – all at once the world is abuzz.”

Here in East Anglia we don’t do winters well. There’s rarely snow and our mild sea climate denies us those crisp, bright winter mornings that I remember from my northern childhood. For us, winter is a sustained and oppressive greyness, amplified by our big skies which press down upon us like a felt blanket. It’s a relief to see the back of it when spring arrives.

Our neighbours have a magnolia tree which I’ve come to see as Spring’s over-eager messenger. Earlier and earlier it starts to bud, sometimes so early that we often wonder if a frost will damage it, but a few weeks later those buds turn into lovely white ragged flowers, like torn strips of paper or discarded handkerchiefs, and then you know that spring is close at hand.

Narcissi blog

Narcissi (42 cms x 60 cms pastel and pencil 2016)

Daffodils are so much a part of the British spring that’s it’s odd to remember that they’re not native flowers at all, but originally southern European, possibly Greek. They were introduced to northern gardens by Dutch bulb traders. Now they’re everywhere: not only in gardens, but surrounding public buildings, scattered through woodlands and even brightening up roundabouts along with discarded plastic bottles and home-made signs wishing someone a happy 50th birthday.

Bees are already in evidence, especially those plump bumble bees woozily searching for a place to nest and give birth to a whole new colony. There are fewer each year however, and our dismal government has ensured this trend will continue by authorising the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Whether it’s straightforward stupidity or some slavish commitment to a free market economy the result is the same – a spring with ever fewer bees to polinate the plants and trees that not only brighten our days but make our world habitable.

42 thoughts on “Enter Spring

  1. Spring is here yes! The world is indeed abuzz. We too suffer from days of oppressive greyness so bright skies and bird songs are all welcome sights and signs of a happier world. Thank you for sharing Michael.

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  2. I particularly like the narcissi; lovely. You’re right about the bees and what really stupid people don’t realise is that without bees we will face famine; so crazy. Actually insects are fine and ony attack on mass when there are no hedgerows and insect eating birds; it’s all a wonderful balance … well it could be 🙂

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  3. Your magnolias have a lovely spring to them – they remind me of my grandparents’ always immaculate garden. This is timely stuff, too, as it’s actually been sunny *all day* here on the coast!

    Glad you mentioned the bees. Such joy watching the happy fellows working around the garden. Their noticeable decline is very sad; we forget just how much we depend on them.

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  4. It’s cloudy and gray here so thank you for these beautiful burst of spring lovliness! Your rendering of both blossoms are beautiful! 😍As for the bees… I agree, it’s horrible how governments bend to corporate greed when it comes to pesticides. It’s insanely short-sighted and will prove to be the worst decision humans ever made unfortunately.

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  5. It’s spring here in NJ too–unfortunately a lot of the magnolias were massacred in the weirdly cold weather. Your rendition is bold and lovely–I love the outline around the image. N.

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  6. Your painting depicts the “white ragged flowers, like torn strips of paper or discarded handkerchiefs” beautifully. I love magnolias. and their waxy leaves. I grew up in the South in the US where magnolias were the best climbing trees around.

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  7. Beautiful spring flowers Michael. I love the sight of magnolia flowers, they have such a delicate beauty. Don’t get me started on our government, they’ve had a go at destroying society and now its natures turn.

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  8. Well I remember some stone cold East Anglian winters back when we first moved here in the early 80s when the ground was frozen solid for weeks (it seemed) and the wind was straight from Siberia and the light was so bright sunglasses were needed. But, you are right, the winters now seem grey and gloomy. I must be the only person in the country that does not like daffodils much (even though they are beautiful), somehow I never feel they look right in our landscape….I find them especially irritating in the hedgerows.

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  9. What a wonderful post Michael-both your words and images convey the wonderfulness that is spring-I especially liked the description of the “lovely, white ragged flowers’–we have magnolias along the street-I so look forward to their blooms, though some people would like to cut them down- and I am enjoying those fat bumblebees right now-although the biggest threat to them is Hubble, who insists on trying to catch them in his mouth 😮

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