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In The Cherry Orchards Of Kent

April 21, 2016
by the gentle author

In April when the green shoots are sprouting and all the leaves unfurling, who can resist a pilgrimage to view the cherry blossom at the National Collection of Fruit Trees at Brogdale in Kent? This is the largest collection of fruit in the world – as the guides proudly remind you – with two hundred and eighty-five types of cherry among over two thousand varieties of fruit, including apples, pears, plums, currants, quinces and medlars.

As if this were not remarkable enough, I was informed that this particular corner of Kent – at the edge of Faversham – offers the very best conditions in the world for growing cherries. They may have originated in the forests of Central Asia, travelling east and west along the Silk Road before they were introduced by order of Henry VIII nearby at Sittingbourne, but here – I was assured – they have found their ultimate home.

The constitution of the soil in Kent is ideal for cherries and the temperate climate, in which the tender saplings are sheltered from the wind by long hedges of hornbeam, produces a delicacy of flavour in the ripe fruit which cannot by matched by the climactic extremes of the Mediterranean.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I advanced up the track, lined with decorative blossom in those livid pink tones so beloved of mid-twentieth century town planners, before turning the corner of a long hedge to confront the orchard of cherries. There are two specimens of each variety regimented in lines that stretch into the distance. The cherry trees are upon parade, awaiting your inspection and eager to display their flamboyant regalia.

A mild winter followed by a cool spring this year has produced conditions without precedent in the memory of Kent locals and delayed the advance of the fruit trees. Yet there was more than enough cherry blossom to induce euphoria, with the promise of future blossom rendering what I saw as an alluring overture to the full flowering that is still to come.

The National Collection of Fruit Trees at Brogdale in Kent is opening for Hanami tours over the next two weekends, 21st-24th April & 28th- 30th April.

You may also like to take a look at

Blossom Time In The East End

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Jeanette permalink
    April 21, 2016

    So pretty to look ar now but all those big fat juicy cherries still to comr. Yum! Living in Kent is good sometimes.

  2. April 21, 2016

    Blossom not out in our NW London garden yet – but budding!

  3. Helen Breen permalink
    April 21, 2016

    Gorgeous, pics, GA – and such a variety of colors. Thanks for the trip….

  4. April 21, 2016

    Overwhelming — and the right theme to the 90th birthday of HRH Queen Elizabeth II !

    Love & Peace

  5. April 21, 2016


  6. Jill permalink
    April 21, 2016

    Lovely pictures evoking home thoughts from Bermuda. My grandparents lived outside Sittingbourne and I have vivid memories of the cherry orchards and, unfortunately, their grubbing out. It’s so good to see that the varieties are still preserved. Thanks, GA!

  7. JM Parham permalink
    April 21, 2016

    Recall picking cherries in Kent back in the ’80s. One of the orchards I worked in the trees were so tall we had to use special iron reinforced ladders over 60 feet high that took two men to get up into the trees, then you’d have to ‘walk’ them round, and most of the cherries were at the top. It was crazy, with lots of kids running round shouting and dragging bits of corrugated iron on the ground which they’d beat with sticks to scare off the birds, and blanks being fired by canons powered with calor gas. I guess the trees are grown smaller these days and covered with netting when the fruit appears to keep out the birds.

    Nice pics,

    best wishes.

    John of Whitechapel

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