Embrace Spring

@Madame Gateau - All rights reserved - Jardin botanique 4

“The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spring is my favourite season for so many reasons.  The days grow lighter and that light lingers longer, the trees and flowers awaken from their slumber, exploding with vibrant colours and fragrances.  We shed the weight of winter by hanging up our parkas and storing our winter boots; the little woodland creatures emerge from their sleep and the birds begin singing sweet melodies… Ok, I acknowledge that last part was inching dangerously close to Disney Princess territory; however, this time of year truly brings me joy!

Formally, spring is one of the four conventional, temperate seasons, when the axis of the Earth increases its tilt relative to the sun, and the length of daylight rapidly increases for the relevant hemisphere.  That hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to “spring forth”, giving the season its name.

Science aside, spring also elicits deeper connotations around rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal.  In a sense, spring is a time to start fresh, be that with new habits, a new attitude or new goals.

While a few mornings this past week were colder than Christmas Eve (don’t get me started), we have enjoyed some beautiful spring days, and I am looking forward to many more before the season is through.

In a popular post from last year, entitled Embrace Autumn, I offered readers a few ways to make the most of the season (this post may be of interest to some of my southern hemisphere friends now).  Given that spring has so many wonderful offerings, I thought it only appropriate to continue that theme.  From fresh blooms to local produce, there is truly something for all to enjoy.  With that said, I offer you four ways to embrace spring:

Stop and Smell the Roses 

…or, tulips, peonies, lilacs, irises, hyacinths, cherry blossoms – the list goes on.  If you are fortunate to live near a public garden, like I, why not celebrate spring by spending an afternoon (or several) in a garden or arboretum?  Almost every week throughout this season, a different flower or tree blossoms, offering so much for the senses to enjoy.  Warning: be quick – many of these beauties have a very limited bloom and if you blink, you’ll miss them!

Whether you reside in Canada, the United States or abroad, GardenVisit.com will help you find the garden closest to you.

Public garden not your thing?  Then why not visit your local farmer’s market or florist and pick up some spring blooms for your home?  Being around fresh flowers and plants does wonders for the soul (unless you suffer from severe environmental allergies).

Research consistently links fresh flowers with an increased well-being.  In the 2008 publication by Park and Mattson, patients in hospital rooms brightened with flowers, needed less postoperative pain medication, had a lower systolic blood pressure and pulse, were less anxious and fatigued, and were generally more positive than those without flowers.

While fresh flowers can be expensive, incorporating them into your space does not have to break the bank.  My favourite way to display flowers throughout my home is in small bud vases.  A bouquet of flowers can go much further with this approach and leave all areas of your home (powder room, kitchen, and desk) looking (and smelling) beautiful.  I have included a few of my favourite bud vases below:

Glass Bud Vase, Eclectic Set of 3 – Pottery Barn
Belle Boulevard Bud Vase – Kate Spade 
Snartig Vase – Ikea 

Refresh Your Space

Martha Stewart once said, “There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean.” While not everyone will as strongly associate spring with cleaning, taking some time to refresh your space is sure to leave you satisfied and ready to enjoy the season.

For many, spring cleaning means taking some time to focus on tasks that are not typically completed in one’s daily, weekly or monthly cleaning routines.  For example, this might mean cleaning carpets and rugs, washing windows and window treatments or reorganizing closets.  Regardless of what tasks you decide to tackle, make sure to open a window or two and let in that fresh air.

Interested in refreshing your space, but don’t know where to begin?  Here are a couple resources from the Queen of Spring Clean herself:

Spring Cleaning Checklist
Spring Cleaning Basics 
Spring Cleaning Organizing 
Spring Cleaning 360 

Cultivate a Garden 

You don’t have to be a seasoned gardener, nor have access to acres of land to enjoy fresh vegetables or beautiful flowers, so why not cultivate your own garden wherever you live?

If you are fortunate to live on a property with ample space, the sky is the limit!  Whether you decide to grow fruits and/or vegetables, flowers, shrubs, trees or all of the above, a garden that suits your taste is certain to please.  Need some inspiration?

Top 10 Gardens – National Geographic

However, if you live in a smaller footprint, do not fret, you can still garden.  More recently, Urban Gardening (creating gardens in spaces like rooftops, balconies, alleyways) has become popular and as an apartment dweller, I love the idea.  No matter what you prefer to plant – vegetables, flowers, shrubs, trees – you can plant some version of it in a container garden.

If you are new to growing vegetables in containers, or have had limited success, here are a few resources that may be of interest:

Container Gardening – Home & Garden Television 
Container Gardening – Better Homes & Gardens 

Cultivating a garden boasts several benefits.  A study out of the Netherlands suggests that gardening combats stress better than many other leisure activities.  For example, after completing a stressful task, two groups of people were instructed to either read indoors or garden for 30 minutes.  The participants were monitored and when the study concluded, the group that gardened reported being in a better mood than the reading group.  Moreover, the participants who gardened exhibited significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who read.

Enjoy Local Foods

One of my favourite things about late spring in Ontario is that local produce begins to show up in my grocery store and farmer’s market.  As you may know, in the Arctic Circle Canada, our natural growing season is fairly limited, so it is always wonderful when I spot the first locally-grown strawberry, cherry or asparagus.

Eating local foods boasts several benefits:

  • It is good for the environment – Local food does not have to travel far to arrive on your plate, so eating local helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improving our carbon footprint.
  • It is good for the local economy – When you buy local, you support local farmers and other producers in your community.
  • It is good for you and your family – Foods that are grown and harvested locally tend to have a higher nutrient value and tend to be much more flavourful.

However you choose to embrace spring,  I wish you a delightful season!  If you need me, I’ll be in the garden.

 

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