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Blossom Time In The East End

March 30, 2019
by the gentle author

Now is season to welcome the blossom back to the East End again for another year

In Bethnal Green

Let me admit, this is my favourite moment in the year – when the new leaves are opening 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 the blossom. 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

21 Responses leave one →
  1. March 30, 2019

    Dear GA..
    Until I met you through Spitalfields Life I didnt know the East End at all beyond Liverpool Street, Petticoat Lane and Club Row. At 75 I possibly never would. The last few years have been a wonderful adventure in finding that an area I had assumed was how it had been portayed is quite beautiful in every aspect imaginable. Thank you for opening my eyes

  2. Susan Levinson permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Lovely photos!

  3. Anne permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Wonderful. Beautiful. A benediction of blossom.

  4. Amanda permalink
    March 30, 2019

    l have always known how lucky l am to be born on the magical First Day of Spring – its the best day ever.
    During the gloom of winter l am filled with hope and bright thoughts dreaming of the blossom and blue skies soon to be here.
    Whenever l walk or drive through a tunnel formed by a glade of shimmering trees l feel enveloped by nature and very safe.

    l knew in my childhood l was so fortunate to grow up in a small London road festooned with cherry blossom trees.
    l put a chair in the bay window of my chilly north facing bedroom to gaze out at the vibrant pink trees in the warm sunlight below, realising the inevitable sadness that they would soon fade or be washed away by strong rain.

    Thank you so much GA for evoking these exact memories with the photos of your magical stroll. My favourites are the white glade ‘outside Bethnal Green Library’ framing the majestic black lamp post and the tree shadows cast on ‘London Fields.’

  5. AndrewH permalink
    March 30, 2019

    thanks GA what a tonic! You can have another sunny day of photography today – Happy Spring.

  6. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Yes agreed – it is a glorious time of the year and there is something extra special seeing such riotous blossom flowering in urban settings.

    And comforting that whatever mess the country has got itself into that Mother Nature still comes up trumps and helps to put things into a better perspective.

  7. Juliet permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Next year it might be worth going as far as Old Ford Road. The stretch East of Approach Road is lined with cherry trees with glorious white blossom, which blooms a couple of weeks earlier than the pink. Robinson Road, off Approach Road, has the same sort of trees. The blossom is just about over now.

  8. Laura Williamson permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Thank you GA for helping us celebrate “the nowness of everything” (wonderful phrase!) with these pictures.

    The blossom time may be temporary but it is wonderfully transformative.

  9. david alan hanchard permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Lovely photos!! glad to see there are still some “Green Lungs” around the capital. we really need such brilliant places

  10. Susan Martin permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Thank you lovely photos i too stop and look at the cherry blossom trees and magnolias. Must be our age we appreciate things much more than we did when young!

  11. Eric Forward permalink
    March 30, 2019

    London can be dull, wet and grey. It now more than ever feels like it can be dangerous and violent. But it can also be glorious and beautiful as your photos show. Give me a sunny day and a good walk – say along Regents Canal or through Victoria Park – and there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be in that moment.

  12. Gary Arber permalink
    March 30, 2019

    I stood in my garden yesterday admiring three plum trees in full bloom when I realised that there was a problem – there were very few bees on the blossom. Normally the air is vibrating with their activity.

  13. March 30, 2019

    A Happy Spring- and Blossomtime to All!

    Love & Peace

  14. Mary-Ann Tait permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Thank you for taking me on a journey of reminiscence through the many streets I walked and cycled over the course of 29 years as a community mental health nurse in Tower Hamlets. I’ve just revisited all those wonderfully historic streets and parks I would aim for to ensure a period of nature was part of my working day. I’m now retired in Scotland but enjoy GA’s daily reminders of my former stomping ground.

  15. Claire Winyard permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Thank you so much for the lovely pictures. Very beautiful and I enjoyed drinking in each tree. Here in Montreal we have to wait another month before we get such glorious colors. You have inspired me to really look for them when they arrive.

  16. Carla permalink
    March 30, 2019

    I live in western Canada so we won’t see any leaves till approx the middle of May. Thanks for this lovely post ❤️

  17. Amanda Root permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Lovely celebration of the joys of Spring blossom. But please remember it is at least a month earlier than it was about 25 years ago and that is due to climate change.

  18. Pamela Bough permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Don’t remember such lovely colours when I worked around Spitalfields as a WPC in the late 1960’s. What a great change to Beautiful trees, lovely people and great reminders.
    Thank you, Pam from Ontario Canada (2inches of snow today)

  19. gkbowood permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Wonderful photos! Whats up with those half white and half pink trees? Are they grafts or mutations or what?

  20. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 30, 2019

    Wonderful images, and even more wonderful to see beautiful trees still on the streets of London. I did exactly the same this morning when I took my camera out where I live, and captured flowering trees and spring flowers, from Forsythia through to a whole range of spring bulbs and cascading aubretia.

  21. March 30, 2019

    Australia largely had evergreen trees rather than deciduous trees, so I have very little concept of the arrival of spring.. and truckloads of blossoms. So your photos are even more beautiful.

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