Hanami in Herne Hill

Hanami is the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.

As explained in Paul Wood’s excellent book “London’s Street Trees – A Field Guide To The Urban Forest”*, the Hanami festival takes place in Japan every spring, to celebrate both the arrival of the new season and the sensual and transient beauty of flowering cherry trees.

He goes on to say that London is graced with many fine cherry avenues, but that the most beautiful cherry tree street has to be Winterbrook Road in Herne Hill. “It is planted exclusively with the wonderful Japanese Yoshino variety. This exceptional planting scheme – a street uniformly planted with a single spectacular species – is a great role model for other London streets and down to the vision of one woman”.

Cherry trees on Winterbrook Road, April 2018

Mr Wood explains that this was Ms Robin Crookshank Hilton, a former local councillor, who was inspired by the cherry planting in Washington DC where she grew up. Washington is famed for its cherries, gifted by Tokyo after the Second World War. [In fact there are one or two other species on Winterbrook Road but as they are not in leaf when the cherry trees are in blossom, they do not in any way compete for attention.]

The Yoshino cherry is the most frequently planted species in Tokyo. If we get another sunny day in this miserable spring, it is worth trotting over to Winterbrook Road (or the neighbouring Stradella Road) to see our own local display before the wind blows it away like confetti.



*published in 2017 by Safe Haven Books

2 thoughts on “Hanami in Herne Hill”

  1. Interesting article; Winterbrook always looks great, in season. Kestrel was renowned for its uniform explosion of pink blossom in spring, too, until relatively recently, when several trees were cut down and – unfortunately – replaced with non-matching varieties. Fawnbrake Avenue also has an honourable mention in this great little book however. Author Paul Wood maps out four different walks across the capital and Number 2 (‘Herne Hill Highlights’, including Winterbook) directs tree lovers along our own street. He says we have a ‘good mix of species’; I don’t know if he researched this before or after our 40 new resident-funded trees went in in 2016.

    1. Good comments, thank you David.

      And Robin Crookshank Hilton is still promoting her Yoshino cherries, now on social media.

      If any readers here use Twitter, they can follow her (‘Dulwich Robin’) on @ex_cllr_rch

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