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”.
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.
Look out for the spring issue of Herne Hill magazine, hot off the press and shortly to be stocked by Herne Hill Books. It’s published by the excellent Herne Hill Society.
It’s a great issue with a rich variety of content, including a review of the current exhibition of David Milne at the Dulwich Picture Gallery; a well-argued article on What Is the Value of a Park by one of the residents leading the campaign against large-scale music festivals in Brockwell Park; a touching excerpt from a recently discovered personal memoir about growing up in Herne Hill in 1914 – 1918; and plenty of news and updates about developments in Herne Hill, including (see the cover) some old-school ploughing in Ruskin Park..
Seek it out now, or better still – pay the absurdly modest annual subscription to join the Herne Hill Society online and get four issues per year delivered through your letterbox.
News about Fawnbrake Avenue & neighbouring streets in Herne Hill, London