Blissful Blossom – Looking out onto my metal garden table, I did a double-take. It looked like it was covered in snow! But looking again, I can see that the cherry which has held out so well this season is finally shedding its blossom.
There is a word in Japanese, sakura zensen, meaning cherry blossom front, which describes the gradual progression of blossom from the tip of the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa in early February all the way to the most northerly cape of Hokkaido by the end of May. Ever since the 5th Century, Japan has celebrated an annual cherry blossom festival Hanami. For a truly splendid visual feast, take a tour to Kyoto’s Maruyama Park or Tokyo’s Ueno Park during the first half of April. It’s the fact that we’ve been experiencing Japanese style weather recently that means our home grown cherry blossom is a real sight for sore eyes. We’ve been having hot sunny days with cold nights and it is the cold night temperatures that have kept the blossom on the trees for so long this year.
My own cherry tree is just giving way to bright green leaves as the pear blossom bursts through and everywhere British blossom is looking at its best. For some ideas of where to go for a truly spectacular experience, read on.
Blissful Blossom – Batsford Arboretum, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire
It would be stupid not to start here – with the National Collection of Japanese Flowering Cherries. Batsford Arboretum is home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs. As silver winner of the Cotswold Tourism Awards Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2014, the Arboretum knows how to put on a good show and offers everything to make a visit a delight.
The cherries come in every possible shade of pink and are enhanced by the blooms of no less than 73 species of Magnolia. Yum!
For more information, visit www.batsarb.co.uk. Admission charges apply.
Blissful Blossom – Brogdale Farm, Faversham, Kent
Home of the National Fruit Collections, Brogdale Farm celebrated Hanami on 10th of April and runs a dedicated blog to keep visitors up to date with blossoming blossom! They run Hanami picnics throughout the month of April. The National Fruit Collection is one of the largest fruit collections in the world including over 3,500 named Apple, Cherry, Plum, Pear, Bush Fruit, Vine and Cob Nut cultivars. The collection is owned by Defra (Dept for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and maintained by the University of Reading.
For more information, visit Brogdale Farm Hanami Picnics
Blissful Blossom – Kew Gardens, London
Where better than Kew? Take a stroll along the Cherry Walk and immerse yourself in the frothy blooms. In 1909, the original collection of Japanese cherries was planted between King William’s Temple and the Palm House. In the mid 1930s, this walk was extended as far as the Temperate House. The cherries you see today owe their existence to the Sakura Bank of Japan which funded their replanting after storm damage decimated the collection in 1987 and 1990.
Take a leaf out the Japanese book, and rather than moan about the need to brush vast quantities of blossom off your outdoor garden furniture before you can take a seat or put your mug down on the patio table, revel in this most exuberant sign of spring.