The Japanese would agree with me that setting aside a little while to enjoy the cherry blossom is well worth doing. In Japan they have a special word for ‘flower viewing’: hanami. Cherry blossom in Japanese is ‘sakura’ and in Japan they celebrate this time of year by having an outdoor party, by day or by night, under a flowering cherry tree. Often lanterns are hung in the trees to allow them to be enjoyed when it is darker, so precious are the couple of weeks that the trees are blossoming.
The latin name for the cherry tree is ‘prunus’ and there are many different varieties. In Britain flowering cherry trees are common roadside and garden trees. Many of these have been cultivated purely for their flowers and are ornamental only so they do not produce cherries.
Most of us don’t have to go too far to find a cherry tree and whilst a single tree can look wonderful, there is something to be said for seeing them in larger groups. A good place to go to see cherry trees is Batsford Arboreteum, near Moreton in Marsh, in Gloucestershire. The arboreteum holds the National Collection of Japanese Flowering Cherries. It’s a pleasant place to visit at any time of year and if you’ve read Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate, you’ll be interested to know that Batsford Park (the big house in the middle of Batsford Arboreteum) was the Mitford family home until just after the first world war. Keele University also has an arboreteum also have a national collection of cherry trees and you can download a guided walk from their website. There isn’t a charge for visiting, although there are parking charges Monday to Friday.