Long before I came to live in central Italy (2003) I had, in fact, led botanical and photographic trips within Italy from the early 1990s. As I discovered the joys of the central Italian hills and mountains, the one thing that impressed me, above all else,  was not the number of rare species (however impressive when it came to wild orchids) but the wealth of the displays.

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Spring crocus (Crocus vernus) tint the landscape towards the Cornu Grande (2012m) the highest peak in the Apennines.

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The bending of the dried grass leaves and of the Alpine Squill (Scilla bifolia) flowers gives a clear indication of the direction of the prevailing winds. We thought that once over the ridge we might be sheltered but to no avail.

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved the sense of awakening and refreshment that the spring months bring. From the colour of spring flowers to the intensity of birdsong,  I find these things not just good for the soul but essential for my personal well-being.

Many friends will know that I am an advocate of the therapeutic powers of immersion in nature and I consider that we benefit from the refreshing aspect of spring – that awakening and renewal after the long months of winter. It is the best cure for winter blues that I know.

This year, for reasons that one might say were beyond my control, I missed the early signs of spring – some  of our local crocuses and other flowers that shout out “winter is over!”. That did not stop me thinking of spring and I am truly grateful for a vivid imagination that enabled me to escape the four walls of a hospital room, not to say a good selection of images on my iPad that also provided the magic carpet. Read More