Photo credit Kevin Wilkinson
Every year, Japanese locals come together for ‘Hanami’, which directly means ‘flower-viewing’ but usually refers to when groups of family/ friends/ colleagues get together to admire the cherry blossoms. Hanami is rarely done without a picnic, and the tradition involves munching on picnic treats beneath the dazzling trees.
When spring is in full bloom in Northumberland, there are many botanical delights to behold. Daffodils surround our castles, rhododendrons create bursts of colour amongst our gardens, tulips open up to the sunshine overhead, and the largest collection of white cherry blossoms line The Alnwick Garden…
Yes, you read it right, The Alnwick Garden grow over 300 Japanese cherry trees (officially named Taihaku) in their cherry orchard over spring. While many travel to the likes of Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Japanese islands such as Okinawa to view cherry blossoms, we have them on our doorstep.
So, we have put together a little guide on How to ‘Hanami’ so that you can have a taste of Japan in Northumberland.
How to ‘Hanami’…
Step 1) Invite as many of your friends or family as you can to head to The Alnwick Garden with you.
Step 2) Roll up your picnic blanket, gather your plates, cutlery, cups and flask and buy some delicious food from The Alnwick Garden’s café to put in your picnic basket. Or, keep the Japanese theme and pack your basket at home with traditional Japanese snacks such as sushi rolls, ongiri and tamagoyaki.
Step 3) Find a spot that offers a stunning view of the cherry blossoms – maybe somewhere along the sloping grass down to the orchard itself. Or, set yourselves up on one of the romantic swinging benches in the cherry orchard (we hold no responsibility for motion sickness!).
Step 4) Enjoy your food with the enchanting, fluttering white cherry blossoms as your backdrop. Wander through the cherry orchard – you might spot some ladies wearing kimonos passing through the gardens.
Step 5) Continue the Japanese theme and head to Bari Tea Brewery in Alnwick for a cup of soothing, loose-leaf tea. Or, visit Bari Tea Brewery beforehand and take it with you to your picnic. This century old drink has fantastic health benefits and its sweet, yet earthy, flavour.
If your Hanami lasts into the evening, you could head to one of Alnwick’s many restaurants such as Cookie Jar. Although they do not serve Japanese dishes, they serve an array of fish options - one of the main sources of food in Japan due to the amazing variety that can be enjoyed from their waters year-round, not to mention its innumerable health benefits.
So, what are you waiting for - invite your friends, pack up your picnic and view the cherry blossoms at The Alnwick Garden.
One of the world's most extraordinary contemporary gardens.