Both Britons and the Japanese alike have a strong obsession with admiring a springtime blossom. As Juliet Roberts from Gardens Illustrated put it: “Blossom is a sure sign that spring has arrived. It has an innocent, simple beauty and its short lifespan is viewed by many cultures as a potent reminder of our own mortality.” This could be the reason that springtime blossoms intrigue us so deeply. Either that or just because it looks pretty.
There is no better (or prettier) blossom than that of the Japanese cherry blossom – a gorgeous spring display of the genus Prunus, varying in height, spread, habits, colours, prettiness, and so on. They are a symbol of destiny and karma in Japan, and the Japanese even have their own word for cherry blossom viewing: Hanami.
Luckily for us Britons, Japan and the UK share the same sort of climate which is just perfect for flowering cherry blossoms. It is not perfect, however, for the year-round avid short-wearers. That makes the UK an ideal place for growing these visually intoxicating trees. There are even a few places dotted around the country that offer an authentic Hanami experience.
Where to view
Royal Botanical Gardens – Kew, London
The ‘Cherry Walk’ is a gorgeous path leading through the Royal Botanical Gardens lined with mature cherry trees like the intense-pink flowered Prunus Kanzan, or the pure-white flowered Prunus Tai-haku.
The Alnwick Garden – Alnwick, Northumberland
Boasting the largest collection of Prunus Tai-haku in the world, Alnwick Garden often encourages visitors to enjoy a picnic under its extensive collection of Japanese blossoming cherries.
Brogdale Farm – Faversham, Kent
Also home to the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale Farm offer Hanami picnics throughout April each year. It provides visitors with the opportunity to ‘enjoy a Japanese experience’ by viewing both an exhibition and a guided tour of the blossoming orchards.
Sake no Hana – Mayfair, London
From March 20th to June 10th, Sake no Hana celebrates the cherry blossom season with a special ‘Sakura menu’ and an alluring installation of white blossoms which aim to ‘give guests a feeling of tranquility as if sitting beneath blossom trees’.
Roka – Fitzrovia, London
From April 26th to June 7th, the basement bar Roka is ‘transformed’ for six weeks with a cherry blossom installation, so you can enjoy contemporary Japanese food in an authentic Hanami setting.
Above are some of the best places to experience Hanami, so if you don’t want to dish out over five hundred quid on a plane ticket to Japan, there’s no excuse not to view a Japanese spring blossom.
Why not start planting a spring blossom in your garden? At Primrose we offer a huge range of ornamental cherry trees. Ranging from Cheal’s Weeping Cherry – a slender and pendulous plant, perfect for smaller gardens, or Prunus Kanzan, a large and elegant looking tree which is ideal as a statement piece if you have more space to play with.