Sakura, Ume and Hanami

There’s something sublime about blossom. I eagerly awaited our first blossoms – from the ornamental plums next to the house – and a whole month later, I’m still enjoying it – knowing more is yet to come. In truth, it was a big part of going to Japan – and I hope spring brings the country a rebirth from the terrible troubles the winter has brought them.

The sakura blossom is a sign of the samurai – for it is only at its prime a short while. It is a sign for mono-no-aware, the bitter-sweetness of things. How perfect beauty fades away, to quote John Clare. Many of the Japanese emperors removed blossoming trees from their ground, replacing them with only evergreen conifers, because the blossom reminded them of the passing of the seasons and the fragility of their rule.

It was this that led me to design a cherry blossom tattoo. Although, as my Nana pointed out, now I’ve got a permanent reminder of the impermanence of life. The irony.

In Manchester, I had only a couple of persistent snowdrops to remind me spring was on its way: here, everything gives me double joy – blossom, then fruit. Nothing gives me as much joy in life as seeing the first blossoms, against a blue sky – or even pastel-soft against a grey sky.

And everything here is in bloom. The first plums in the garden burst into flower yesterday. The peach nearest the petite grange flowered first, followed by the one next to Steve’s woodshed, then the one nearest the poly tunnel. The apricot and nectarine Steve planted last November have burst into blossom with tiny flowers. The huge, ancient cherries are also coming into blossom. The quince and pear are resplendent in huge blooms.

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