Spring Forward

In the UK today the clocks have gone forward by an hour, and British Summer time has begun. In reality of course spring has only just ‘sprung’. Spring time in Japan is synonymous with Cherry Blossoms or ‘Sakura’. I visited in September last year, so missed out on this spectacle. I hope to go back in the near future to see the fantastic displays myself. In the meantime, I have sought out the blossoms in London.

Holland Park in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea is home to the Kyoto Garden. Other than Kew Gardens, I believe this is the only public Japanese Garden in London. The garden was donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991, to celebrate the Japanese festival in London in 1992.

Whilst it is a small area, unlike Kew’s efforts, it is a beautiful space with a cascading waterfall in to a large pond. Spend a few moments on the stone bridge and the koi carp will soon appear. The colours of these sacred fish are so varied. Most of the carp I saw in Tokyo and Kyoto were a dark grey/brown. The water is full of copper coins that visitors have thrown in for good luck.

There are some other small water features, gravel paths, stone sculptures and even a resident peacock. The park is free to visit and is open from 07:30 am to thirty minutes before dusk. It is often quite popular, so I suggest arriving early and making the most of the peace and quiet.

I visited specifically in search of some of England’s spring blossoms. My morning walk to work passes under a Magnolia tree, and the smell is nothing short of divine. It has been a daily reminder to get to the park. Unfortunately, due to the unusual heat in December/January a lot of the blossoms came to early and were killed off. However, I did manage to find a few stunning examples.

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The white (plum) blossoms were in the main area of the park outside of the garden. However the pink (cherry) blooms were by the pond and looked lovely against the contrast of the blue skies. The trick to spotting the difference is to look at the shape of the petals and the buds. Plum blossoms have round petals with circular buds. Cherry, blooms a little later in the year, with a notch in the petals and oval buds.

In England, one of our symbols of spring is the daffodil. There was a large area in the park full of bunches of this iconic yellow flower. I couldn’t resist snapping a picture.

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It is perhaps still a little too soon for the best blossom displays. I will wait for a few more weeks before making a trip to Kew and the large Japanese garden there. I don’t think I could ever tire of walking under the blankets of blossoms and enjoying the fragrant smell. No wonder the bees are such a fan!