Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

I have a passion for blossom. Every year I watch for the first buds to break

Blackthorn is the first and this year it has been particularly sumptuous.

But today I'm talking of the apple, the plum and the cherry blossoms that froth and spill over the trees in such abundance that it makes me gasp with delight every Spring.

I love blossom so much that I decided to spend a whole day looking at and photographing all the varying hues, from pink so dark it's nearly purple-

Through the beloved (and slightly kitch) double pink cherry of my childhood-

One grew in our road in front of our house. I watched the tree through all the seasons.

This slightly more elegant pink cherry is so fluffy it that makes me think of a ballerina's tutu-

Whereas this one is delicate and ethereal

I have always wanted to own an orchard, so apple blossom is a particular favourite-

Maria " went on to the door in the east wall, unlocked it, and went through into the orchard. She had not been there for some while, and she gasped with delight when she saw the pink-and-white blossom that made a canopy fit for a queen over her head"
 ('The Little White Horse' Elizabeth Goudge)

A. E. Houseman's famous poem speaks for many in finding perfection in the single white cherry

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

I have very happy memories of playing with the fallen cherry blossoms at my primary school.
Two tall, beautiful trees shed their flowers on the bank at the edge of the playground. All springtime we would collect these and make nests in the grass full of the choicest petals and blooms and then thread these onto long blades of grass making necklaces that were much treasured.

Perhaps the double white cherries are a little over-the-top in comparison

But I love them too!

As I walked through the orchard

I have tried through my photographs to capture the abundance of blossom-

 the individual beauty of a single bud-

and the subtle patterns and grace of the flowers

What fascinated me was the subtle variation of colour from pure white to deepest pink.
I decided to try to create a piece of art from my photographs to show this.
It has turned out far to big for me to be able to photograph it successfully...

I added the words " Fifty years are little room" spread out throughout the piece.

It nearly works, I think!


  1. They are all so pretty. I can only imagine walking amid the blooming fruit trees. Your pictures are magnificent. Bonnie

    1. Thank you Bonnie. I have found a lovely 'secret orchard', a tiny area that seems to belong to no- one and I love to walk amidst the trees there. Jane xx

  2. Hello Jane

    What a fabulous uplifting post. I love the collage you created.

    Your childhood memory of making bird nests from the cherry blossom petals and then necklaces evoked fond memories for me.

    The hawthorn I miss seeing too.

    Thanks for a beautiful post

    Helen xx

    1. Hello Helen, I'm so glad you like my collage. It is the first piece of art I have made since being a child!
      I'm glad you played with cherry blossoms too as a child. Jane xx

  3. Jane, you did an amazing job creating this beautiful post. I will look back on this in the dead of winter and enjoy it again and again. Diane

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post Diane, it felt such a happy coincidence seeing yours just as I had written mine. Jane xx

  4. Hello Jane:
    "Oh to be in England now that April's there...". Browning is so right and this wonderful post of blossom in abundance brings home to us so much of what we are missing. It is, surely, the loveliest month when winter with all its vagaries is firmly in the past and the future promises so much. A magical sequence of images which we have so much enjoyed.

    1. I agree with you and Browning and disagree with with Eliot! I love April too, although apart from a couple of magical days this one has been cold, wet and windy...I'm glad you enjoyed my pictures. Jane xx

  5. What a lovely post and I adore the collage of beautiful photographs you have made. It was lovely to meet you on Saturday and I hope to see you again at the fairs and catch up.
    Jo xx

    1. Hello Jo,
      It was so lovely to meet on on Saturday, I bet we could have talked about our Amersham days for ages in a more peaceful setting! I'm really pleased you like my colage, I've never done anything like that before. Jane xx

  6. Beautiful blossoms, Jane.

    I once wrote a letter to Elizabeth Goudge by the way - when I was in my early twenties - to tell her how much I loved her books and she actually replied, even though I think she was in her eighties by then. To my chagrin, though, I lost it! For my last birthday, though, my sister bought me a First Edition of 'The Dean's Watch' - a really treasured possession.

    1. Hello Biddy,
      How nice to meet another lover of Elizabeth Goudge! I have managed to collect all her books over the years and I always wish that I had written to her to tell her what pleasure they have given me. I'm so glad she replied to you. I am planning to write a whole post on her at some time... Jane xx

    2. I'll certainly look out for that, Jane. I remember reading, 'The Joy of the Snow' too - which was fascinating. x

  7. Dear Jane,

    I have memories of cherry blossom, in Italy. We lived in the city. In my city you are never too far from the sea and some days you can smell the seaweed and feel the salt on your skin. That has to be the closest you get to being a mermaid.

    My mum loved all things beautiful: she loved nature and the sea... she loved colour and scent and lived at one with nature. She didn't know it and she never told me so, but I knew, as I was her baby and I felt what she felt.

    In Spring she would buy branches of cherry and almond blossoms and freesias, into our home, then she would open the windows and let Spring in.

    In my country cherry, almond and peach blossom have the sweetest scent ever... so sweet, if you are not careful, you get totally lost in it: just like Alice did in wonderland. I am yet to find my way out...

    My mother gave me lots of gifts, but, the most precious of them was the scent of cherry, almonds and peach blossom, with salt and seaweed from the sea, and freesias. I will always be grateful for those gifts.

    I love your pictures, Jane! Thank you for bringing back a slice of my childhood and thank you for a truly lovely post!

    Happy Spring!



    1. Dear Anna,
      It is lovely to hear from you as always. I'm glad my post made you happy!
      I too find scents so important. I love the sweet yet fruity smell of the apple blossom and would so love to fill my house with cherry, almond and freesia as your Mother did. No wonder you remember so clearly.
      And that wonderful smell of the sea! Every time I get that first hint of salt and seeweed I feel the same excitement I did when on holiday as a child. I grew up in Buckinghamshire and that is a long way from the sea, so our trips were something very special.
      Have a happy week and a happy Spring too!
      Jane xx

  8. We have a large old cherry tree on our land. It's narled, scuffed and marked in places with clear yellow amber spilling out of the old splits in the bark. It is shelter for the chickens, for the sheep and lambs, and was a refuge for our daughter when the mood took her- superb for sitting in with a good book. It gives us pounds of sweet, almost black cherries each year. It's one of the main reasons I hesitate to down-size too soon - oh, I will miss that tree when we finally move to our cottage!

    1. Trees are such an important part of our lives aren't they? I remember the huge old apple tree at the top of our garden as a child. We all had our favourite (and vigorously guarded) branches to sit on and we bartered with the apples!
      I feel for you at the thought of leaving your beloved cherry! Jane xx

  9. What a perfectly lovely post after a week of heavy rain and violent winds that we have had in Sussex this week. Just as the wisteria is beginning to bloom too. You have cheered me up with your beautiful photo's. Its also nice to know someone who loves Elizabeth Goudge too. I have a lovely collection of her books. Karen X

  10. Hello Karen.
    Another Elizabeth Goudge fan, oh good! I do hope the rain doesn't spoil your wisteria, my next door neighour's is just coming into bloom. I keep hoping it will spread across onto my house! Jane xx

  11. This is a such a wondrous post - the blossom and the reminiscences. Thank you for the reminder of Maria ( c'set moi when I first read The Little White Horse aged thirteen and plain and same first name).

    I madly wished in vain for the cherry tree outside my mother's bedroom window to come into blossom as she lay dying in late March because she had loved it so.

    And lovely to see you again at The Vintage Bazaar - I don't have your email address after all. Please contact me at mcgemmell@elegancemaison.com re local vintage fairs as we discussed.Cx