Unforgettable spring displays
The annual cherry blossom festival or hanami is an important event on the Japanese calendar. To enjoy your own blossom experience a little closer to home, visit one of these RHS Partner Gardens where exquisite pastel blossoms welcome spring.
The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland
The arrival of spring is unmistakable at The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, where the cherry orchard is awash with blossom from some 300 Prunus ‘Tai-haku’ (great white cherry). ‘The Cherry Orchard offers a peaceful space in contrast to features like the riotous Grand Cascade,’ says The Duchess of Northumberland, Trustee of The Alnwick Garden Trust. ‘The vision was that in spring the orchard would have clouds of white blossom with a carpet of pink ‘Mistress’ tulips below.’ From 13-28 April 2013, the trees will become the focus of a Cherry Festival including dancing and special workshops.
Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire
As a child, Claire Birch remembers playing games with the carpets of pink cherry blossom that settled on the croquet lawn at Doddington Hall each spring. Today, visitors to her family’s Lincolnshire estate can also take pleasure from the confetti-like blossoms – especially picturesque is the 80m-long Cherry Walk (above), where recently planted Prunus ‘Tai-haku’ and P. serrula complement 55 year-old specimens of P. x yedoensis, P. ‘Kiku-shidare-zakura’ and P. sargentii. ‘For me the most magical place is the orchard with its informal display of apple blossom,’ says Claire. ‘I love the noise of the bees pollinating the flowers, and the thought that their work will bring us wonderful apples and juice.’
Ryton Garden, home of Garden Organic, Warwickshire
Garden Organic Ryton near Coventry has an interesting collection of ornamentally trained top fruit, including espaliers, cordons, arches, and hedgerows. Most of the trees flower within a few weeks, creating intense blossom displays: the Prunus first, followed by apples, pears and quinces. ‘All the trees are labelled with the cultivar, rootstock, pollination group and year of planting, to give visitors a good idea of how each tree develops,’ says Head Gardener Andy Strachan. ‘I like the quince Cydonia oblonga ‘Krymsk’. It has large white blossoms flushed with pink – just lovely.’
RHS members can visit each of these gardens free of charge in April (Member 1 only). See the RHS Members’ Handbook or Garden Finder for more details