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East End Blossom Time

April 5, 2023
by the gentle author

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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


10 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy permalink
    April 5, 2023

    I used to be a gardener in Meath gardens and Cambridge Heath rd /Bethnal Green gardens, till boredom set in ?

  2. Laura permalink
    April 5, 2023

    Beautiful! Especially so when the sun is shining and the blossom is in contrast with a blue sky. It’s my favourite time of the year too, I can’t see any pink blossom from my window but I can see the white blossom of a plum and a damson.

  3. Robyn permalink
    April 5, 2023

    Great photos of stunning trees!

  4. James Keltz permalink
    April 5, 2023

    What a cracking post. Thank you for brightening up a rainy day here in Devon

  5. Helen Breen permalink
    April 5, 2023

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what a variety of blossoming trees all over London. I particularly like the lacy white blossom in Haggerston and London Fields.

    On this side of the pond, we are not quite there yet. Thanks!

  6. Cherub permalink
    April 5, 2023

    Blossom is such a cheerful and uplifting sight at this time of year, especially with Easter coming. A beautiful sign that spring is here and the long drabness of winter is gone.

  7. Brian permalink
    April 5, 2023

    Dennis Potter also used the phrase “the blossmiest blossom” which is the title of a painting by the artist George Shaw, famous for his use of Humbrol model paint. A tree in full blossom is featurd in the very ordinary setting of a Council Estate and it remains transformative in it’s appearance. What a great idea you have of enacting your own version of hanami, I will do this myself next year.0

  8. April 5, 2023

    Inspired by the report about the hyacinth grower Alan Shipp, I planted some hyacinths in my balcony flower box a few days ago — they are now flowering in bright pink and are the first in the neighbourhood!

    Now I just have to get over my nasty cold and spring can come. Happy Easter to all!

    Love & Peace

  9. William from Long Island permalink
    April 6, 2023

    Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram (1880-1981) of Benenden, Kent can be thanked for the rescue & propagation of Sakura Cherry cultivars throughout the world. We would not have this annual display without him. I recommend his biography The Sakura Obsession by Naoko Abe.

  10. Beryl Happe permalink
    April 12, 2023

    A wonderful trip around a ver y different Bethnal Green from my childhood. It was somewhere we all wanted to get out of, and now cannot afford to get back to. Lovely blog, Thank you.

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