With blossom trees across the nation bursting into bloom we've polled our team of writers and contributors to offer these wonderful suggestions for the best places to get out and about to enjoy this glorious seasonal show.
Britain may not have the flower-watching tradition that Japan enjoys, but many of its gardens put on displays to rival oriental sakura. Here’s a pick of some of the best places to visit — make sure to contact the gardens in advance to ensure you view them at their most spectacular.
With 125 varieties in its Mother Orchard of 300 trees, Cotehele plays an important role in preserving traditional British apples and the blossoming trees put on a magnificent show every spring. Even more atmospheric is the Old Orchard, where delicate blooms perch on lichen-encrusted apple, pear and Tamar cherry trees.
Essex — Audley End
Peach trees, sheltered in a glasshouse, herald the start of spring at Audley End. Later in the season, plum, pear and apple trees fill the walled Kitchen Garden with a cloud of pink and white flowers.
Gloucestershire — Batsford Arboretum
For a taste of Japanese sakura that doesn’t require an 11-hour flight, visit Batsford’s National Collection of Japanese flowering cherries. In April the trees turn into a frothing cavalcade of pink and white blossoms, set against oriental statues and a Japanese rest house.
Hampshire — Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
This Hampshire arboretum is beautiful at any time, but it becomes really magical in the spring, when hundreds of ornamental cherry and plum trees break into flower.
Herefordshire— Brockhampton estate
Thousands of tiny blooms frame the old moated house at Brockhampton, with its
25 acres of Shropshire Prune damson trees. The estate also has apple, pear and cherry trees and, should you ever tire of flowers, lambs frolicking in the fields.
Kent — The Brogdale Collections
Home to one of the world’s largest fruit-tree collections, Brogdale is hard to beat as more than 4,000 pear-, cherry-, plum- and apple-tree varieties burst into bloom. On April 14, the grounds host a Japanese-inspired Hanami (flower-
London TW9 —Kew Gardens
Kew’s spring display feels almost daunting in its abundance, but, at the very least, wander down the Cherry Walk, where Japanese varieties explode in a riot of seasonal colours; visit the Japanese Landscape, where giant white blossoms shade an intricately carved replica of a Kyoto temple gate, and tour the Bonsai House for miniature flower-watching.
Northumberland — Alnwick Garden
Alnwick’s cherry orchard is thick with Tai-Haku, or Great White, one of the most beautiful of all Japanese varieties. Enormous blossoms cover hundreds of trees, forming a pristine white canopy over thousands of daffodils. If you can’t get there yourself, there is a livestream on the website.
North Yorkshire — Beningbrough Hall
Italy may have been the inspiration behind Beningbrough, but, in spring, the gardens feel quintessentially English, with their bright daffodils, early tulips and myriad trees in bloom. Don’t miss the Victorian pear arch, the ornamental quince and the cherry lawn’s massive Shirofugen tree.
Somerset — Barrington Court
With an impressive 70 varieties of apple trees in bloom, the cider orchards at Barrington Court are awash with dainty, pink-veined flowers. Visitors can sponsor a tree — or stock up on the estate’s award-winning cider.
Staffordshire — Keele University
A university may not seem the most obvious place for spring blossoms, but Keele is the location of the National Collection of Flowering Cherries and some 240 varieties pepper the campus. Look for the Matsumae trees, from cultivars originally raised by a Japanese specialist in the sakura hotspot of Matsumae Town, Hokkaido.
Worcestershire — Blossom Trail
Worcestershire is not only the home of great gardens — it has an entire trail dedicated to blossom. This 50-mile route across the Vale of Evesham weaves around petal-laden orchards, taking in plum, apple, pear and cherry blooms. For those who’d like to enjoy a glass of the local cider, coach tours are available.
From deciduous woods yet to fill out with leaf, to windswept hilltop shingle beach and riverbank, our flora can give
Alan Titchmarsh issues a plea to all of us that could beautify our environment and bring people together.