Hanami: Blossom big hitters
Spring has sprung and it’s blooming lovely. Check out these top Hampshire spots to enjoy the Japanese Hanami tradition.
Your local Muddy is a nature Insta-pest, always snapping and posting pics of trees and flowers. So when I visited Kyoto one March, I picked the perfect month to go. Rather than attracting odd stares, I was in good company. People all around me were partaking in the traditional custom of Hanami (blossom watching), pausing to notice, celebrate and photograph the delicate flowers.
Cherry blossom is almost always the floral headliner in Japan but there are plenty of other types of tree blossom to look out for. Fortunately, given that we’re keeping it local, you don’t need to venture far to find some beautiful blooms.
As the weather warms, you’ll see blossom everywhere in streets, parks and gardens on Springtime strolls. This month, the National Trust is celebrating its vast collection of heritage fruit trees and ornamental cherry trees in the gardens of our local National Trust big hitters around Hampshire – an uplifting Springtime spectacle if ever we saw one.
You’ll also find plenty of cherry blossom at Exbury when it reopens at the end of the month. Here’s what to look out for…
Mottisfont, near Romsey
Early Spring is ideal for blossom watching at Mottisfont as it sees the flowering of a magnificent white magnolia and creamy blossom in the little cherry orchard. In the kitchen garden, young apple trees bloom with pink and white flowers. On the estate walk, look out for blackthorn and spindle blossom. Then, slightly later, comes hawthorn.
“We have a splendid Conference pear tree in our famous rose garden – it must be at least 70 years old,” says Head Gardener, Jonny Norton. “The delicate pinkish-white blossom provides a feast for early solitary bumblebees and other insects. In autumn, the tree provides rich, juicy fruit. The beauty of this specimen lies in its age – a reminder that it’s worth keeping fruit trees for as long as possible.”
Hinton Ampner, near Arlesford
The orchard at Hinton Ampner is full of Japanese cherry blossom. First come the pink double flowers of variety ‘Kanzan’, followed by the blowsy cream blooms of Mount Fuji. In the walled kitchen garden, a perfect spot for blossom watching, fruit trees pop clusters of candy-pink and white petals.
“The Kanzan cherry is one of the showiest varieties we grow in the orchard at Hinton Ampner, displaying delicious double lilac-pink flowers in late April,” says Head Gardener, John Wood. “When the petals start to fade and drop, they flutter across the lawns here like spring confetti. Then there’s another round of colour in autumn, when the leaves take on a fiery-red glow.”
The Vyne, near Basingstoke
The Vyne’s orchard features heritage plum, pear and apple trees with tiny cream and deep-pink flowers. In late Spring, the path through the Wild Garden is flanked by little cherry trees with delicate pale pink blossom.
While you’re wandering the gorgeous grounds of the Tudor powerhouse, look out too for the variety of Spring daffodils. The beautiful blooms calmly bob their heads in the breezes that pass through the walled garden, summerhouse garden and wild garden.
Coming next month… Sakura at Exbury Gardens
The 200-acre New Forest site reopens on 29 March. Have a picture-perfect picnic under 48 blossoming Japanese cherry trees, planted through the UK-Japan Sakura Cherry Tree friendship project. Then continue the floral journey with a stroll through the Daffodil Meadow (above) and flower-filled Azelea Bowl.
Find out more about hanami and all things blossom on the National Trust Blossom Watch page. Captured a beautiful snap? Share it with the National Trust and other avid Spring blossom watchers using #BlossomWatch – and don’t forget to tag @muddyhantsIOW.