Spring Symphony

Highdown Gardens, West Sussex
Highdown Gardens, West Sussex

Creative Spring

A sense of exhilaration is in the air. Hibernation is over and the natural world has re-awakened. So have we, after a winter indoors. The cattle released from the wintering sheds into the grassy fields, and the newborn lambs  jump and frolic for joy in their new sense of liberation. The birds also burst into full throated song as a prelude to the nesting season. There is a sense of joie-de-vivre everywhere as the longed-for  acceleration of spring begins. As Shakespeare puts it :

‘From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,..’

From Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98 

It’s not surprising that spring has produced such a vast amount of poetry and music.For example, some of Mahler’s symphonies; Schumann’s ‘Spring Symphony’; Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’; Delius’ ‘On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring’ and so much more. It’s hard not to be creative at this most optimistic season.

But, beware! There is still a chill in the air. After a bright start with many shrubs flowering earlier than usual, the spring symphony seems to have reached the ‘slow movement’. On some cloudy days it seems as if we are back in March. Is spring here or not? With stops and starts in the weather, the Chelsea Flower Show exhibitors will be having headaches, wondering if the plants will be ready in time or past their best when show time comes.

If only things would warm up so that we can move on into the full ‘orchestral performance’ of the richness of May. We wait in eager anticipation of what is to come.

Blossom time in Highdown Gardens

Highdown Gardens

With the rather slow and cautious approach of the warmer weather we gardeners need to be patient as we wait for more favourable conditions. Sir Frederick Stern, the creator of the beautiful gardens on Highdown hill, near here, must have had  patience in abundance. Some years ago I read his book ‘The Chalk Garden’ where he wrote about how he set out to make a garden in what was a disused South Downs chalk pit. (Sadly this book is no longer in print). Despite the very inhospitable situation, and after many failures, over the years the chalk pit has disappeared under a verdant cover of green. This woodland garden, as it now is, has more than proved what can be grown on a chalky hillside. Many unusual plants grace the garden. Happily this special place is now well maintained by Worthing Borough Council and is open and much enjoyed by the public.Thank you Sir Frederick.

To see more about these gardens and how they were created visit the excellent website which has details of the plants and those who worked in the garden :


Wisteria flowers draped over a garden seat

The Soloists

As I sit on this sunny seat, now gracefully adorned by beautiful Wisteria, I’m enjoying the ‘Symphony’ here too.  We are just a mile or so from Highdown, but happily not on the chalk. There is a plenty of music and poetry in the garden now. The daffodils and other early bulbs have had their place as star soloists. Now the Tulips are in full  flow with the ‘wedding cake’ Viburnum plicatum across the path getting ready to light up its brilliant creamy-white tiers. 

 It won’t be till May that the whole orchestra is playing in full vigour and harmony with the trees coming into full leaf providing the background accompaniment. The summer performers are already waiting in the wings as millions of seedlings crowd the nation’s windowsills. One of the delights of watching the approach of spring in a garden is that there is always something new to notice every day.

‘See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
    the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.’

From the Old Testament ‘Song of Songs’ chapter 2 verses 11-13

A bright collection of tulips filling two tubs

What keeps all this show going.? Surely not mere chance.The hand of the Divine Gardener is behind it all. He is the Conductor of this vast ‘orchestra’, and I for one, want to give him all the glory. Creation was not a one-off event, but it is still going on, a continual process year by year as promised:

‘As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, summer and winter, cold and heat, day and night, will never cease.’ (Genesis 8 verse 22  )

And what’s more, here in the world’s temperate regions, we have the bonus of spring and autumn thrown in as well !    We are so grateful for it all.

A display of contrasting greens in the spring garden
Who needs flowers when you have all these contrasting spring greens. Our Euphorbias and Hellebores steal the show here.

For more of my own garden photos see the ‘Garden Gallery‘ page

As always, your comments would be most welcome.


2 thoughts on “Spring Symphony

  1. Thanks for your comment. I see we are ‘kindred spirits’. I love some of the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, especially his piece ‘The Aolian Harp’.- about nature’s ‘music’. William Wordsworth wrote in a similar way in his poem, ‘Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey’. Nature’s ‘music’ is such a welcome alternative to what Wordsworth calls ‘the still sad music of humanity’ in this poem.
    – Richard


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