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Blossom Time in the East End

May 6, 2013
by the gentle author

In Bethnal Green

Let me admit, this is my favourite moment in the year – when the new leaves open fresh and green, and the streets are full of trees in flower. Several times, in recent days, I have been halted in my tracks by the shimmering intensity of blossom at its peak. And so, I decided to enact my own version of the eighth-century Japanese custom of hanami or flower viewing, setting out on a pilgrimage through the East End with my camera to record the wonders of this fleeting season that marks the end of winter incontrovertibly.

In his last interview, Dennis Potter famously eulogised the glory of cherry blossom as an incarnation of the overwhelming vividness of human experience. “The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous … The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.” he said and, standing in front of these trees, I succumbed to the same rapture at the excess of nature.

In the post-war period, cherry trees became a fashionable option for town planners and it seemed that the brightness of pink increased over the years as more colourful varieties were propagated. “Look at it, it’s so beautiful, just like at an advert,” I overheard someone say yesterday, in admiration of a tree in blossom, and I could not resist the thought that it would be an advertisement for sanitary products, since the colour of the tree in question was the exact familiar tone of pink toilet paper.

Yet I do not want my blossom muted, I want it bright and heavy and shining and full. I love to be awestruck by the incomprehensible detail of a million flower petals, each one a marvel of freshly-opened perfection and glowing in a technicolour hue.

In Whitechapel

In Spitalfields

In Weavers’ Fields

In Haggerston

In Weavers’ Fields

In Bethnal Green

In Pott St

Outside Bethnal Green Library

In Spitalfields

In Bethnal Green Gardens

In Museum Gardens

In Museum Gardens

In Paradise Gardens

In Old Bethnal Green Rd

In Pollard Row

In Nelson Gardens

In Canrobert St

In the Hackney Rd

In Haggerston Park

In Shipton St

In Bethnal Green Gardens

In Haggerston

At Spitalfields City Farm

In Columbia Rd

In London Fields

Syd’s Coffee Stall, Calvert Avenue

You may like to take a look back at

East End Snowmen

24 Responses leave one →
  1. May 6, 2013

    Gorgeous! I too have a great fondness for blossom time.

  2. Jeannette permalink
    May 6, 2013

    …and a nightingale sang in brick lane.

  3. Patty/BC permalink
    May 6, 2013

    Blossom time makes every place special and pretty, because someone planted them for that purpose alone. They just make people happy.

  4. May 6, 2013

    Fab photos – thank you!

  5. May 6, 2013

    Worth the walk!

  6. Gary permalink
    May 6, 2013

    Beneath the beautiful trees you can see the humble Dandelion “Dent de Leon” with is petals resembling lions teeth, ignored and derided because it comes to us so freely, yet look at the perfection of the floret in brilliant yellow and when it seeds before the first puff of wind lace that is better than anything from Flanders. Every weedkiller commercial zaps it. If it were hard to grow it would be at Chelsea. At least in me it has one admirer,

  7. Christine Carder permalink
    May 6, 2013

    I so enjoy reading and seeing what you do ,never would have discovered spitalfields life if you had not discovered Barn the Spoon ,so thank you for giving me something special that takes me back to my teenage years when I would roam the East End and find so many interesting places.

  8. Ros permalink
    May 6, 2013

    Wheee… Gorgeous!

  9. May 6, 2013

    Beautiful! I lived in Bethnal Green through the autumn and winter, and moved just recently so I never got to see it looking anything other than dull until now!

    Jess x

  10. Maureen Gardner permalink
    May 6, 2013

    We went away on holiday for two weeks leaving England in Winter, and returned to all the lovely blossom. Transformed in two weeks, just love the blossoms. Thank you wonderful photos.

  11. May 6, 2013

    Lovely photos, thank you. The long winter must have done the trees a lot of good for them to flower so profusely. Wish the same could be said for humans; I for one do not like long winters.

  12. Nina permalink
    May 6, 2013

    …… beautiful pictures, thank you …. (that little house in Shipton Street also looks lovely behind the pink blossom)

  13. Léo de Hurlepète permalink
    May 6, 2013

    Refreshing pics! I’d love to see the Museum Gardens. Thanks.

  14. RaspberryPip permalink
    May 6, 2013

    A joy to behold.

  15. May 6, 2013

    This is my first spring in London after having moved here last June (just as it began to downpour, and continue through the rest of the summer)…and I have to say that the past few weeks have been absolutely amazing. Definitely makes up for the long, dark winter. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous photos!

  16. Eiko Yachimoto permalink
    May 6, 2013

    I visited a friend living in East London in the last week of this past March.
    I did enjoy the visit, but with these rich cherry blossoms I would have sung all the songs of this world! Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. Haz permalink
    May 7, 2013


  18. May 7, 2013

    i love the blossom season. to me, it is more than just the promise of spring. it is a sign the the london is unfurling itself after months of hibernation. this is such a beautiful piece!

  19. May 10, 2013

    Exuberant pictures, Gentle Author. I love the explosive shapes made by the branches – and the fish about to devour another fish in Bethnal Green Gardens.

  20. May 11, 2013


  21. Barbara Hague permalink
    January 19, 2014

    Lovely pictures to cheer up our cold, wet, horrible winter.

  22. Paul Wilson permalink
    April 27, 2015

    There’s a nice group of cherries in the grounds of the former St Clements Hospital in Mile End, visible from Southern Grove.

  23. Penny wilson permalink
    April 27, 2015

    …like frozen fireworks.

    I love the multi coloured grafted cherries on the Mile End Road/Southern Grove
    FB Page Greetings from Mile End

  24. Felicitas permalink
    April 22, 2016

    Jeanette, thank you for the song of the nightingale.
    And of course dear “gentle author” for your
    blog on trees in blossom

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