One of Japan's oldest and most-cherished customs, the hanami, or cherry blossom viewing party, has become a worldwide celebration. Based on the Chinese custom of viewing blossoming plum trees, this botanical harbinger of spring has been celebrated since the early 700s, when revelers toasted the new season with sake, haiku writing, and music. Hanami is all about timing: The blooming cycle of the sakura, or cherry tree, is short-lived, usually just one to two weeks from the first buds opening (kaika) to full bloom (mankai). The cherry blossom is an extremely important symbol in Japanese culture: the flower's brief bloom symbolizes the fragility, transience and beauty of life.
My cutting garden is based at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire where there are lots of blossom trees - not just cherry but plum, quince and apple. The garden is particularly spectacular in the spring with bulbs naturalised en masse and swathes of cow parsley and forget me nots.
The abundance of the bulbs and the early blossom, followed by the late blossom and cow parsley is joyful and it is hard to get any work done because I do find myself revelling in the sheer exuberance of it all especially because it is not for cutting, just enjoying (although some does accidently fall off into my bucket - ahem).
This year the gardens are open every day between 17th and 24th April (excluding 23rd) for our own cherry blossom festival. It is the start of the blossom season with plenty to enjoy in the garden and blankets are provided so you can sit on the grass, wrap up and enjoy the blossom and the Japanese music which will be piped into the garden. Details are here http://www.doddingtonhall.com/calendar-events-detail.php?Cherry-Blossom-Festival-374
As part of the festival, I am running a spring flower and blossom flower crown workshop on 21st - hop onto the courses page if you can come - there are still a couple of places available.
I had a quick whip round the garden to see how it was looking so I can give you a sneak preview. Come and say hello if you do visit - pop into the shed and we can indulge in a cup of tea ceremony ;)