It's cherry blossom time as Japanese cherries across the country burst into spectacular bloom.
In Japan the arrival of the cherry blossom is a major event, and in the UK, too, it's a cause for celebration at Batsford Arboretum in Gloucestershire, currently holding its annual Festival of Japanese Flowering Cherries (until the end of the month).
It's well worth tracking down some of these spectacularly beautiful small trees for your own garden. You'll find a good selection available at your favourite garden centre: here are a few of the best:
- 'Amanogawa' is a very upright tree reaching about 4.5m tall, in spring turning into an eyecatching column of fragrant, soft pink flowers.
- 'Kanzan' is a gorgeous traditional flowering cherry, about 10m tall, its spreading branches laden in spring with rich pink double blossom.
- 'Okame' is an early-flowering cherry, one of the first to blossom in March. Its flowers are sweetly fragrant and carmine pink, and it grows to around 8m tall.
- 'Kiki-Shidare-Zakura' is a small weeping cherry, just 4m tall, with elegantly drooping branches smothered in a breathtaking display of double pink spring blossom.
- 'Shirofugen' flowers a little later than most Japanese cherries, but steals the show with its large, double white flowers against coppery young foliage. It reaches around 7m high.