Welcome Spring

Today is the official start of spring and at Trinity the gardening team is hard at work nurturing plants and trees coming into bud and maintaining the College grounds – all while putting into practice social distancing, of course.

Bed of Polyanthus Plants in Great Court

With public health developments in the UK this week, many people are now working from or isolating at home and are more conscious than ever of the importance of wellbeing.

While we can’t all go outside and benefit from fresh air and the natural world, we can experience Trinity’s varied habitats springing into life through the eyes of Trinity’s gardeners.

For them, spring is a very special time of year. Tom Hooijenga, Head Gardener, said:

I look forward to the arrival of Magnolia blooms and when they finally open I know Spring is just around the corner. It is a question of holding one’s breath and total relief if the buds make it through unscathed from any late night frost.

Some hard work and nurturing – what a show to see the Polyanthus grow from 2cm little plug plants to full bloom – what a scented joy!

Blooming Magnolia

Karen Wells, Senior Gardener, said: ‘Around November time I start dreaming of which seeds I’ll sow the following year. Then, suddenly, March sees the germination of Ricinus and the promise of tropical summer giants.’

Ricinus germination
Ricinus seedling

Adrian Poole, Emeritus Professor of English at Cambridge University, and Fellow of Trinity, said, ‘Trinity’s gardens are always for me comforting, heartening and inspiring –  as they were for some of the many poets who lived and studied here. Now more than ever they seem to offer some respite from the troubles of our times.’

He reminds us of two of them:

Edward FitzGerald wrote in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring

The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:

The Bird of Time has but a little way

To fly – and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

while this stanza is from Andrew Marvell’s The Garden

Fair quiet, have I found thee here,

And innocence thy sister dear!

Mistaken long, I sought you then

In busy companies of men.

Your sacred plants, if here below,

Only among the plants will grow.

Society is all but rude,

To this delicious solitude.

And of course we could not omit A A Milne’s Noise, by Pooh

Oh, the butterflies are flying,

Now the winter days are dying,

And the primroses are trying

To be seen.

And the turtle-doves are cooing,

And the woods are up and doing,

For the violets are blue-ing

In the green.

We will share images of Trinity’s blossoming springtime on social media. The College is closed to visitors at present but if you are a member of staff working at the College, a Fellow, or student who can’t return home, then please feel free to send your photos of flowers, trees, birds, sunsets or sunrises at Trinity to communications@trin.cam.ac.uk  Thank you!

Photographs: Tom Hooijenga and Karen Wells

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