Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"A better remedy...than all the things sold at the chemists shop"

Coming across a card of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh called Almond Blossoms, somehow made me much more observant this April and May of the blossom trees and the way they really do uplift the spirit. There are so many, always so beautiful around in the hedges and parks where I live and their whites and pinks against a bright blue sky are like a huge declaration of hope and trust in the renewal of new life.  

Almond Blossoms ~ Vincent Van Gogh

I decided to research a little into Vincent's blossom paintings and found that this was one of his favourite subjects. The sight of blossoming branches against a blue sky was a symbol of new life to him, and because of that he painted 'Almond Blossoms' as a gift to his brother for the birth of his son. As well as painting them himself, he collected paintings of them too, mainly Japanese blossom paintings, and they brought him a sense of peace.

Blossom tree in hedge on my street

I kind of got obsessed one day in April with trying to capture that perfect picture of blossom against sky, but soon found that it was an impossible thing for me to do. The sky was never deep enough, the pink was never bright enough. The downloaded photo was never enough to satisfy because it could never bring that feeling of serenity felt in the heart which Vincent talked about. Or the way it feels when you look up at the sky and you just can't open your eyes wide enough to take it all in. Maybe painting it like he did brought him a bit closer to that experience? 

Or maybe, all that's needed is to lay back, gaze up and do nothing! Just absorb it all through skin, eyes, smell... That's clearly not what Vincent chose to do! He wrote in a letter: "I am up to my ears in work for the trees are in blossom..."
Wild Cherry tree blossom in my garden

St Mary's Church Park, Portsmouth.
After a windy morning!
I certainly found myself agreeing about the healing powers he writes of in this letter to his sister:

"Having as much of this serenity as possible, even though one knows little - nothing - for certain, is perhaps a better remedy for all diseases than all the things that are sold at the chemist's shop".

I was noticing today how most of these blossoms are now blown to the ground and the trees are showing their new green leaves more clearly. But it's not over yet... walking the dog this morning, I found the Hawthorn is coming into blossom - the Hagthorn!

Hawthorn ~ Hagthorn


  1. I totally agree with you and Van Gogh - blue skies and blossom (especially white blossom) are a wonderful, magical, calming sight.