The symbolic flower of spring, cherry blossoms represent renewal, prosperity and the fleeting nature of life, as only two weeks after they flower they begin to fall. Cultures and cities around the world have long since celebrated their arrival (the Japanese, for instance, are famous for their Cherry Blossom parties) and London is no different. As winter retreats, there’s a range of wonderful places throughout the capital where you can marvel at this incredible natural phenomenon, whilst looking forward with a sense of hope, optimism and gratitude…
Kew is the city’s biggest botanical garden, so it’s no surprise to learn that it's a pretty great location for cherry blossoms. Situated behind the famous Palm House (itself a spectacular sight) is a collection of different cherry blossom trees, and if you follow the path you’ll soon be on ‘Cherry Walk’, a section lined with deep pink blossoms. It’s immersive, life-affirming and somewhere you can get some amazing photographs of this legendary space in full bloom.
The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park was crafted all the way back in 1992 to celebrate the UK-wide Japan Festival, and to this day it's a wonderful place to visit. Featuring a little bridge at the foot of a waterfall, a pond full of koi carp and a broad range of exotic trees, it’s a genuine oasis of calm. And, of course, when some of those trees are covered in cherry blossoms this zen space is transformed into something quite otherworldly. One of the city’s best-kept secrets, this is well worth your time.
In ancient mythology, the fruit of the cherry tree is what gives the Gods their immortality! And while a visit to see the cherry blossoms that line Chester Road in Regent’s Park won’t ensure you’ll live forever, they’re still wonderfully charming, especially as the days get longer. Cherry blossoms can also be found in the Avenue Gardens, located near the Broad Walk and home to an astonishing range of fountains, ornate hedges and effervescent flower displays that linger long in the memory. Somewhere to relax, unwind and really lose yourself.
A favourite amongst those looking to get an amazing photograph, the blossoms at St Paul’s Cathedral only enhance this incredible landmark, already a must visit if you’re in central London. There aren’t actually that many trees around the cathedral itself, but if you go around to the St Paul’s Churchyard on the south side you’ll find a number which are famous for their bright colours at this time of year. From a certain angle they frame that famous dome perfectly, making for a truly great snapshot.
In China, Cherry Blossoms symbolise love and also female strength and beauty. Closer to home, in Greenwich Park - already one of London’s most lush, bucolic locations - if you climb the hill and head past the planetarium you’ll find a hidden path near the rose garden. Here, the blossom-covered branches create an archway that’s so alluring it seems almost unreal, as if created for a film or art installation. Some say this is as close to Japan or China as you’ll get without actually making the journey.
Get up close to a series of the UK’s biggest cherry blossom trees, part of the remarkable yearly display at Kensington Gardens. Entry through the Lancaster Gate means being greeted by a truly awe-inspiring arrangement, and close to the Albert Memorial the colours and configurations only get more and more impressive. Then, of course, there’s the rest of this incredible greenspace to explore, which, during the onset of spring, really is a joy to behold. Living history at its most vivid and compelling.
Perhaps the capital’s most revered greenspace, St James’s Park may not have any blossom-lined avenues, but it can still boast a range of magnificent displays dotted throughout its fifty-seven acres. These sumptuous pink and white blooms are also accompanied by a sea of bright yellow daffodils, in what can only be described as a stunning seasonal showcase. And, of course, there’s also the Pelicans, who have lived in the park for almost four-hundred years. So, even for those mainly seeking out blossoms and flowers, these giant, colourful water birds are always a welcome sight.