How and where to spot the spring blooms
The sight of blossom on trees means the new season is on its way, and with it some sunnier skies and warmer temperatures. Ring in the spring with family and friends by seeking out the pretty flowers.
If there’s anyone who knows how to appreciate this beautiful time of year, it’s the Japanese who celebrate spring blossom with the traditional custom of hanami (‘flower viewing’). The blossom forecast, or ‘sakura-zensen’ is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two.
Blossom is vital for wildlife. Bees use the pollen from wild cherry and apple blossoms, caterpillars and butterflies eat the leaves of goat willow and elderflower blossoms. Song thrushes and blackbirds hunt for insects among the blossom and eat the trees’ fruit – as do badgers, mice, voles and foxes.
Apple blossom appears from March–April and is white with a hint of pink. It grows in hedgerows and scrubland in moist, heavy soil, on short trees with greyish-brown flecked bark and a gnarled (‘crabbed’) shape.
Wild cherry trees are covered by small clusters of white flowers in April–May. They love sunlight and fertile soil, typically growing in hedgerows or at woodland edges. The bark is a gorgeous reddish-brown.
Blackthorn is one of the first shrubs to burst into flower in March, the white blossom appearing before the leaves. The tree is short with smooth, dark brown bark and found in hedgerows and scrub in full sun. The trees can often reach 100 years old.
At the tip of the Cotswolds are these manor gardens where former owner and landscape designer Lawrence Johnston filled the orchard with cherry trees. Also don’t miss the daffodils and Welsh poppies in the Pillar Garden this spring.
Bute Park, Cardiff
This enormous park is a nationally significant arboretum that blooms with cherry blossom in the spring. It’s an easy hour-long drive from Bristol and is close to Cardiffs many pubs and cafes, ideal for refuelling.
Batsford Aboretum, Gloucestershire
Here you’ll find the national collection of Japanese village cherries (aka the Sato-Zakura group). Algernon Freeman-Mitford, the 1st Baron Redesdale, inherited the estate in 1886 and used his travels throughout Asia to inspire his garden.