Hints & Tips
Spring is here once again, and with the sun climbing ever-higher in the sky, the days growing longer and flowers coming into bloom, it seems like we can forget our winter worries and start enjoying ourselves.
To the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Nothing is so beautiful as Spring / When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; / Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush / Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring / The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing."
Alright, the weeds part isn't too appealing to gardeners, but the rest isn't too shoddy.
The season has always had a huge significance for people around the world, and festivals are regularly held to mark its arrival.
In the UK, we celebrate the arrival of spring on May Day, which dates back to Anglo-Saxon and Celtic celebrations. But what is spring like in the rest of the world? And is there anywhere that does spring better than everyone else?
Well, it turns out we're lucky enough to experience some of the best springs around the world. As western Europe has a temperate climate, we have four recognisable seasons because the position of the sun shifts relative to our location in the northern hemisphere.
Other parts of the world are not so lucky (or luckier, depending on your point of view). In the tropics, the sun is directly ahead all through the year, so there are only wet seasons and dry seasons, while plants thrive throughout the year.
In the subtropics, things are slightly different – but arguably not as good as our spring. As Gardening Australia points out, spring down under can feature "intense sunshine, hot weather, drying winds and erratic rainfall" – certainly not ideal gardening weather!
However, if you fancy making a trip, Australia does have a better side to its spring. The country's biggest flower festival is held in Canberra during the months of September and October (our autumn, but their spring) and visitors can witness a million spring blooms bring the city to life.
In Japan – which has a temperate climate like the UK – events known as Hanami are held. These involve people viewing the cherry blossom that flowers up and down the country during the season. They can take place from mid-January to early May, and may involve the drinking of sake or beer to aid celebrations.
If you want to experience spring in all its glory – and you're a huge flower enthusiast – then paying a visit to the Netherlands is probably worth your while.
People all around the world gather for Holland's tulip festival, taking in the endless fields of flowers by hiking, biking, or joining horse carriage rides and covered wagon tours.
There's plenty to do besides looking at flowers all day, of course – but unfortunately this year's festival is over, so you'll have to wait until next spring to take in the tulips.
Where in the world spring is best probably depends on what you're looking for. One thing's for sure, though – despite all the April showers (and the occasional downpour), it's hard to beat a British spring.