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East End Blossom Time

March 31, 2021
by the gentle author

In celebration of spring, we are having a SPRING SALE with all titles in the Spitalfields Life Bookshop at half price. Enter ‘SPRING’ at checkout to claim your discount.


Click here to visit the Spitalfields Life online bookshop


East End blossom is featured in THE GENTLE AUTHOR’S LONDON ALBUM which is included in the sale

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

Once upon a time …. Syd’s Coffee Stall, Calvert Avenue

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. March 31, 2021

    Finally some lovely flowers to bring colour back to our gray lives. Finally!!! Thank you G.A.

  2. March 31, 2021

    Great pictures GA, Pollards Row looks small and narrow now, double yellow lines as well, is the Old Workings mans club still going? Nice snooker tables there a long time ago!! Nelson Gardens looks good, once worked on film there, Secret Hiding Place, Ronald Cole, Belinda Lee, and the Guy from Uncle series, forgotten his name now, went on to Hollywood Fame? Lovely Trees in Bethnal Green always was, never appreciated them as now as a child. Stay well UK, nearly over, and back to living the dream.

  3. March 31, 2021

    Got it now it was David Mccullum, played the villains part in that film, he always wore the best leather jackets a poor boy from East End had ever seen,1950s, and Miss Lee was gorgeous , Ronald was always tapping her for money, as i remember. In opening shots on bomb site playing on old rusty car was my part, all took place in and around Nelson Gardens, cannot remember what we were paid.

  4. March 31, 2021

    Beautiful GA. I miss London so much. The last time that course with you in Fournier Street just over a year ago . I am not ready to get on public transport yet but do look forward to the day I walk down Brick Lane again. It does seem that London is coming to the Surrey Hills at Easter

  5. March 31, 2021

    What a glow of nature. I think that the virus here has its good side: the purified atmosphere causes an even more splendid blossoming!

    Love & Peace

  6. March 31, 2021

    Thank you GA for this early morning stroll amongst the blossom trees….through streets so familiar to me .
    Having lived opposite Victoria Park for many years, the arrival of spring and seeing all the blossom throughout the Park was a source of real joy for a small, East End girl.

  7. Cherub permalink
    March 31, 2021

    The blossom trees are very beautiful here in Switzerland at the moment. I take a walk every evening just to see them as I love the explosion of bright colour they give. It has taken away the drabness of this past difficult year. Enjoy them while you can, nature is one of the best free things we have in our lives.

  8. March 31, 2021

    Vicarious strolling! Thank you for taking us along. What a hopeful, optimistic post — and great timing.

    In our region we are not able to start any outdoor plants until mid-May — so this is the time of year when we get fidgety and eager to get our hands into the soil. Our recent temps have been quite warm — so even MORE temptation. However, the snow tires stay on the vehicles, the warm coats and heavy scarves remain at the ready — We know the reality of it.

    It makes your post today, even more enjoyable. So glad you are experiencing this lavish
    display of nature.

  9. March 31, 2021

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thank you for the lovely collage of budding trees and flowers that you recorded in East London. You folks are about three weeks ahead of us in New England.

    I guess that Robert Browning (1812-1889) said it best in “Home Thoughts from Abroad:”

    OH, to be in England now that April ’s there
    And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware,
    That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
    Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
    While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough 5
    In England—now!

  10. Ann V permalink
    March 31, 2021

    Beautiful, just what we need. Thank you.

  11. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 31, 2021

    Lovely! x

  12. Lizebeth permalink
    March 31, 2021

    Echoing the sentiments of your other readers. I have been unable to come to my London second home for well over a year now, and I have missed two Spring seasons. Thank you for showing me the beautiful trees there. All the London Parks and Greens are so beautiful in the early Spring — my favourite time of year.

  13. Mónica Anguera Cuyás permalink
    March 31, 2021


  14. April 3, 2021

    Gorgeous. Absolutely gladdens the eye, and the heart.

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