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Spread your wings this spring
Whether you know it by its traditional Japanese name – Sakura – or simply as cherry blossom, there’s no doubting it’s one of the prettiest (and most Insta-friendly) phenomenon in the UK. And fortunately there’s no shortage of places to go and experience the incredible sight of thousands of pale pink blooms.
The time-honoured tradition of hanami (‘flower viewing’) needs nothing more than great company and a few pinkening petals – so rouse the kids, rally some friends, or treat the dog to an extra-long walk.
While cherry blossom season typically falls in April, the more recent trend of milder winters mean that the first flowers can be seen as early as March. And with different varieties blooming at different times and the average tree blooming for just two weeks, you’ll need be quick about getting the best shots – so we’ve listed some of the best spots to find them!
The best places to see cherry blossom in London
London has a fascination with these beautiful trees, and there’s a great selection of locations across the capital to find them!
Cherry blossom trees at Kew Gardens
It’s an obvious one, but London’s biggest botanical garden is one of the best places to visit in search of cherry blossom. The rose garden behind the famous Palm House hides an avenue that bursts into colour each spring – making it a spectacular spot to get a shot for your Instagram feed with the house itself in the background.
It’s just a quick walk from Richmond or Kew Bridge stations to get here.
Cherry blossom trees at Kyoto Garden, Holland Park
A gift from the city of Kyoto to the people of London and Great Britain as a whole, the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park has spend 30 years being a place of peace and calm in the centre of a bustling city. And being designed by renowned Japanese designers means that – of course – one of Japan’s most beautiful exports features front and centre. Couple up a shot of the (relatively tame) peacocks and the cherry trees over the beautiful pond for a shot that’ll fool your followers into thinking you’re in the prefecture itself.
Take the London Overground from Clapham Junction to Kensington Olympia to discover it for yourself.
Cherry blossom trees at St Paul’s Cathedral
Keeping it minimalist is St Paul’s Cathedral. While there are only a few trees here, they’re in the perfect spot for your Instagram feed. Frame Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic dome with a bough of the candyfloss flowers and an bright blue sky and you’ve got the makings of a stellar post.
St Paul’s is 20 minutes’ walk from Waterloo along the beautiful Southbank and across the Millennium Bridge.
Cherry blossom trees at St James’s Park
This is probably the most central place in London where you’ll find cherry blossom trees. There are a number dotted around the lake, but for the best shots, head towards Buckingham Palace – face back towards Horse Guards at the eastern end of the lake and you’ll find a cherry blossom tree leaning over the water, framing the fairytale buildings of Whitehall as they peek out beneath the trees.
St James’s Park is just a 10-minute walk from London Waterloo.
Cherry blossom trees at Battersea Park
Often overlooked thanks to not being one of the more famous Royal Parks, there’s nonetheless plenty to see here. Head to Spring Tree Walk for views of candy cotton trees with the iconic Battersea Power Station chimneys in the background – perfect for that Instagram-perfect angle. Look closely and you may even see south west London’s resident parakeets enjoying a feast!
Battersea Park is just five minutes’ walk from Queenstown Road station, or a quick bus ride from step-free Clapham Junction.
The best places to see cherry blossom in the south west
The warmer climes of the south of England make it a happy home for the cherry tree – and there are plenty of spots to discover some rare varieties in our region.
Cherry blossom trees at Mottisfont Abbey
Mottisfont Abbey bursts into a candyfloss pink colour in late spring with it’s small cherry orchard offering a truly delightful spectacle. Time your visit for the end of March or early April to catch the magnolia in bloom too, creating a stunning archway to pass under on your way in.
Mottisfont Abbey is a 20-minute walk from Mottisfont and Dunbridge station
Cherry blossom trees at Hinton Ampner
Hinton Ampner is festooned with flowers from March until May thanks to its incredible variety of species. First to burst are the Kanzans’ frilly fuschia 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’).
Hinton Ampner is a 40-minute bus ride from Winchester station.
Cherry blossom trees at RHS Garden Wisley
Visiting RHS Wisley in the spring is a joy in itself, but arriving you’ll enter the estate through an avenue of 140 blossoming cherry trees – a fitting introduction to this glorious garden. Japan’s beloved Prunus x Yeodensis species, with its pure white flowers and light perfume, the Prunus x Yedoensis was selected for Wisley by RHS experts for its beauty and resilience – and it makes for an incredible picture too..
RHS Wisley is a short taxi ride from Woking station, or you can catch the 715 bus which runs hourly from Guildford station. Cycle from West Byfleet for the greenest option – and don’t forget that travelling car-free can get you 25% off your entry! Just show your train or bus ticket, taxi receipt or bike on arrival.
Cherry blossom trees at Exbury Gardens
The garden team at Exbury made the most of the series of lockdowns by planting dozens of gorgeous blossoming cherry trees thanks to the UK-Japan Sakura Cherry Tree Project. 48 of these flower-festooned trees offer a perfect spot for picnicking and relaxing – and that’s before you head into Daffodil Meadow to experience the blaze of spring yellows.
Exbury Gardens are just a 30-minute bus ride from Brockenhurst station.
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