Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #142: You Pick It — Spring Happens 2020 & 2021

Note: This post was first published April 1, 2020. At that time, the news of a pandemic was fresh, but not fully understood. The impact, of course, was in the beginning stages. I’m republishing so that you can read my thoughts last April — and now my new thoughts in April 2021. One thing’s for certain: spring happened both years – whether we were ready or not, vaccinated or not, prepared for quarantining or not. So, for my “You Pick It” post introduced by Leya, here’s a hybrid of 2020 and 2021.

2020: It’s a spring like no other here in Knoxville: people are staying inside, dedicated caregivers and medical professionals are working harder than ever, and most of us barely realize it’s the prettiest time of the year in our fair city. But one thing COVID-19 hasn’t stopped is the blooming of trees and flowers everywhere, Knoxville included.

In fact, spring is happening, with color and confidence.

2021: Spring has sprung once again in Knoxville (still with color and confidence) as we prepare for our signature festival: Dogwood Arts. Many residents have been vaccinated, so restaurants are reopening, fans are returning to spring sports, and lilacs, rebuds, dogwoods, tulips, etc., are blooming!

Rain-drenched lilacs add beauty to spring.

2020: The first shows in Knoxville are the tender greens — sprouts emerging from the ground, poking up to see what’s going on in this world of ours.

2021: No difference this year. Fresh, green leaves of hostas point heavenward, heralding the re-opening of our fair city and a return to “normal” — a state Nature never left.

New, green hosta leaves bathed by raindrops
Pale green: hellebores in early spring

2020: But pink quickly takes on a life of its own. Redbuds (maybe they should be called purple buds or pink buds) line the I-40 interstate and push out their color as if to say, “Look at me first.” But we can’t stop staring at them wherever we find them.

2021: In Knoxville, we know it’s spring when the redbuds are in bloom along I-40. These naturally wild versions spring forth early, adding a soft purple to the green space along the interstate. Shortly thereafter, redbuds appear on our main thoroughfares — in the city and the suburbs. Some are planned for and planted, some spring up wherever they get a toehold.

An elegant redbud tree oversees a pathway at UT Gardens, Knoxville

2020: Pink cherry trees also bloom early, almost bending with the weight of what looks to be tissue-thin flowers clustered along meandering branches.

The same has happened again in my neighborhood in 2021.

Without leaving our neighborhood, we can appreciate three glorious flowering cherries.
Pink Profusion

2020: But the heart of springtime in Knoxville is the dogwood (Cornus florida). Celebrated for 65 years now by the Dogwood Arts Festival, dogwoods even have their own trails. And a drive along any one of them is a spring awakening for residents and visitors alike.

2021: Dogwood Arts is now alive and well in Knoxville! And not just the trails that were open last year, but many of the events we’ve come to know and love — Chalk Walk, Bikes & Blooms, Featured Gardens.

2020: We checked to see if trails and open gardens would be available for touring this year, and, best we can tell, some are. This cautionary statement appears on the website: Due to the spread of COVID-19, some of the Open Gardens listed below may choose to close. Please only enter gardens that have an “OPEN GARDEN” sign in the yard.

2021: The new wording on the Dogwood Arts website is this: *MASKS REQUIRED AND SOCIAL DISTANCING ENFORCED. Thankfully, we can still roam freely in some of Knoxville’s prettiest gardens.

Runners keep their distance on this stretch of the Sequoyah trail, the featured trail for 2020.

2020: One garden we’ve previously shared, the estate of Dr. Alan Solomon, will not be on tour this year, but we remember fondly the elegance of the forested acres and statuary that make it a showplace like no other in town.

2021: Dr. Solomon is re-opening his garden for the event known as Open Gardens on April 17 and 18, 2021. A glorious treat for all who remember these grounds that were open for years, except for 2020!

2020: If you want a springtime lift, a drive along one of the trails may be your best bet. Check the Dogwood Arts website for a map showing the location of this year’s trails, and then drive along for a color treat. We took the Westmoreland Trail this week, and, as you can see, there’s much to celebrate.

2021: The featured trail this year is the one in Holston Hills. Follow the pink lines running through the neighborhood and get ready to take photos. Trees are in full bloom!

An elegant redbud leans in toward this traditional home in the Westmoreland neighborhood of Knoxville.
A mature dogwood adds elegance to the front yard of this home on the Westmoreland trail.

2020: It’s good to know that even when most things we value are shut down across America, Mother Nature still shows her colors majestically. It’s time to celebrate spring — whether in Knoxville or your own hometown — and be thankful for growth, renewal, and color in these tough times.

2021: Perhaps we appreciate nature’s beauty even more this year after spending much of last year’s spring inside our homes. Truly this quote has new meaning for all us as we emerge from the “winter” of quarantine to the spring of life:

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Percy Bysse Shelley
Saucer Magnolia — Magnolia x soulangiana

Here’s hoping spring is beautiful no matter where you are — and this year, maybe we can all get out to enjoy it to the fullest.

Travel the pretty spots,

Rusha and Bert

If you want to see more entries in Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #142: You Pick It, go to Leya’s blog and enjoy the entries linked below her absolutely gorgeous photos of anemone hepatica.

26 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #142: You Pick It — Spring Happens 2020 & 2021

  1. Amy

    Breathtaking… Thank you for taking us along. Too beautiful!
    Without leaving our neighborhood, you can appreciate three glorious flowering cherries. I envy you.

  2. Klausbernd

    Absolutely great pictures of these beautiful gardens 👍 We are amazed how healthy all these flowers are. They are all blossoming at ours too right now – unfortunately not that immaculate.
    Thank you very much for sharing.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Leya

    Looks wonderful over there, my daffodils are bought in the store…nothing ready in the garden yet. And a bit envious you are so many vaccinated that you can go out and about – lucky you!

  4. restlessjo

    Fabulous photos, Rusha! 🙂 🙂 Glad you’re making such a good recovery over there. In Portugal we are taking the first timid steps towards normal. It feels such a relief.

  5. dawnkinster

    Awwwww….look at your spring! You already have lilacs! And…and….and! We are having our first warm days after what seems like weeks of cold and rain. The winter was mild, but grey. Today is the second day in a row with sunshine! I think our gardens are going to pop now that it’s getting warmer. I have daffodils up with big buds on them…any moment now…any moment… (we’re in SE Michigan, though my sister used to live in Knoxville, so I know how pretty it is there!)

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Dawn, I think I replied through email before, but I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by. It’s always good to hear from you. Hope you are staying safe and finding things to do. We’re hunkered down now, but I’m finding that I have more to do even now — so much I hadn’t done while working full time. So, I’m off to look at a closet that needs cleaning today. Or not. It seems I’ll have some other days off as well.

      1. dawnkinster

        I have plenty of things like closets to sort and clean, but I haven’t done any of that stuff. I’ve done fun stuff instead…though I am cooking more and that’s only so-so fun. I’ve been painting little miniature postcards and mailing them out…that’s super fun. And walking the dog more too, she is very happy about that. I guess I should get to the closet cleaning…but ….I don’t really want to!

  6. The Wandering RVer

    Beautiful images! Spring is my favorite time of year, to me it represents hope and survival. In NH, I had a large crocus garden and no matter how much snow, or how cold winter had been, every spring they would emerge and make my heart sing. All the best to you and Bert.

  7. CompassAndCamera

    Wow, just gorgeous! Your photo of hosta leaves with raindrops would look amazing as a canvas on the wall. Thanks for brightening up today with such a colorful post!

  8. Dede Wilkerson

    Love this so much! I would love to share this with my Chapman Highway Dogwood Trail and Chapman Highway Garden Club Facebook pages. You have a beautiful gift of writing. These blogs pull me in! Thank you for that! I’m also praying that you and Bert are safe and well! 🙏❤️😘

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      I would LOVE for you to share. Just copy the link at the top of the post and send it out. I’d love more followers. There’s a place to add your (or anyone else’s) email at the bottom right corner of the front page. I’m usually a travel writer, but we’re staying home now, so expect more about Knoxville. Thanks again for sharing.

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