Japanese heritage and traditions are central to the Lexus brand, and in its home country many of its employees will be enjoying the tradition of hanami (‘flower viewing’) this spring. As lockdown eases in England and cherry trees start to flower, Lexus is suggesting six of the best places to drive to and enjoy the cherry blossom in all its glory.
In Japan, cherry blossom is more than just the first sign of spring; it is a symbol of renewal, and regeneration. Beneath the blushing boughs of sakura (cherry blossom), people gather for picnics and parties, welcoming winter’s end, refreshing old friendships, and planning for the year ahead. Celebrations last from late January to late April as the warm front activates life and colour from the southernmost outpost of the Okinawa archipelago to the northern island of Hokkaido. This tradition will often involve food and drink infused with the aromatic flavours of cherry blossom.
Lexus suggestions on where to see cherry blossom in England (please check websites and adhere to latest Covid guidelines):
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
Visit Wisley this spring and you’ll enter the estate through an avenue of 140 blossoming cherry trees – a fitting introduction to this glorious garden. With its pure white flowers and light perfume, the Prunus x Yedoensis species is a favourite in Japan and was selected for Wisley by Royal Horticultural Society experts for its beauty and resilience.
Book a time slot in advance: RHS
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Kew’s ‘Cherry Walk’ is spectacular. Linking the Temperate House and Palm House, this blossoming boulevard showcases some truly sublime sakura – best enjoyed between April and May.
Pause for a moment at the three Japanese Landscapes, located near the Chokushi-Mon (Japanese Gateway) which were designed in the image of traditional Japanese gardens, complete with stone lanterns, raked gravel, and a fragrant flourish of cherry trees.
Book a time slot in advance: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Hinton Ampner, Hampshire
Thanks to its variety of cherry blossom species, Hinton Ampner is festooned with flowers from March until May. The first to burst are the Kanzans’ frilly fuchsia blooms, which transform the orchard into a riot of pink, swiftly followed by the more delicate, paler petals of the Shirotae trees (also known as ‘Mount Fuji’). In the Vyne walled garden, the sakura lingers until late spring.
Dog-friendly. Book a time slot in advance: National Trust
Batsford Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Batsford is home to the UK’s National Collection of Japanese Flowering Cherries, which encompasses around 70% of all known cultivars. Highlights here include the Yoshino, whose pillowy pink boughs were imported directly from Japan, and the Umineko, which is covered with soft snow-white flowers. The blossom will be in full bloom throughout April.
Dog-friendly, book tickets in advance: Batsford Arboretum
RHS Garden Rosemoor, North Devon
At RHS Rosemoor you’ll spot pretty pastel Beni Yutaka blooms, the cream-coloured Somei Yoshino, and the dazzling white Tai Haku, all planted during last year’s nationwide Sakura Cherry Tree Project. The trees were donated by Japanese businesses, as a symbol of friendship and respect between the UK and Japan.
Book a time slot in advance: RHS
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
From as early as February, the treetops of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are dotted with rosy blossoms, but by April and May they’re laden with flowers. Sweet-scented cherry trees frame the main lawn (a beautiful spot for picnics), while the gardens’ seasonal walking trail highlights the best of the blooms. Look out for budding magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons too.
Buy tickets in advance: Birmingham Botanical Gardens