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Nothing shouts SPRING more than the world's largest Taihaku cherry orchard

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

The sakura, or cherry blossom, is revered in Japan for its beauty and short season. The Hanami Festival is a tradition of admiring the blossom and to gather under the blossoms for a picnic. I lived in Tokyo for a year when I was 18, many moons ago, but the beauty of Sakura has always stayed with me. Those beautiful Japanese pink blossoms iconically captured by Japanese artist Hokusai have always stayed in my mind.

The emergence of the first cherry blossoms is known as kaika (translates to budding) and the peak when the most trees are in full bloom is known as mankai (translates to fullness or open).

It is difficult to predict exactly when a cherry blossom tree will bloom. Every year, at the beginning of January, the JMC (Japan Meteorological Corporation) releases their first forecast of when cherry blossoms will start to flower and reach full bloom that year. It really is serious stuff!

Here in the UK, we don't have the MET office following the country's cherry blossom bloomings. However, we do have Instagram feeds and news from fellow photographers who have seen blossom out and about, and of course keeping a watchful eye on the extraordinarily beautiful Alnwick Garden Cherry Orchard. I was surprised to learn that Alnwick Garden has the world's largest collection of Tai-haku Great White Cherry trees, a whopping 329 of them. I read somewhere that these Great Whites are now non-existent in Japan, where they originated, but obviously they are thriving in our North East climate!

Although it is quite an expensive day out £15.95 entry, £3 parking, lunch, drinks and petrol to get there and back home, I do think it is worth going to see at least once. It is absolutely stunning, and the day I visited - Friday 22nd April - the blooms were full and just incredible. The mass of blooms was so great, it was really hard to focus on specific flowers so the majority of my images look like they've been painted. They have plenty of swing seats and a winding path through the orchard. It's easily accessible to all ages and pathways are flat and smooth enough for push chairs and wheel chairs. If you can, go on a sunny day with lovely blue skies, it will make the orchard light up beautifully. They have a live webcam from the orchard, so check this before you go:

I hope you enjoy these cherry blossom photos and our one minute video from TikTok/Instagram if you haven't been this year, make sure you add Alnwick Garden to your bucket list if you want to join in with the Hanami Festival below Britain's best Taihaku Sakura!

If you are in the North East area either living, visiting or on holiday, you can book me to come with you on days out to photograph you whilst your out and about. Photography in a natural and relaxed environment is what I do best. Email me on

Emma x


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