Last week two Somei-yoshino cherry trees were planted in The Regent’s Park, a gift from Japan to celebrate the enduring friendship between Japan and the UK. The Sakura Cherry Tree Project will see a further 6,500 planted in parks and schools around the UK, including 125 around the Royal Parks, as part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20.
With the press in attendance, the trees were planted by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine, The Royal Parks Chairman Loyd Grossman, joint Chairman of the project Sandy Sano, and students from Robinsfield Infant School. The trees will blossom for decades to come, a symbol of the lasting friendship between the two countries.
With the sun having come out to witness the planting of the trees, an enjoyable morning ended with a rendition of ‘Sakura’, sung beautifully by students from George Elliott Primary School.
Sandy Sano, founder and joint Chairman of the project, said: “The response we have had from all across the UK, from Guernsey in the south to the Orkneys in the north, from parks and schools across the UK has been amazing. It is testament to the strong relationship between the two countries, and we hope the trees will be a lasting tribute to that.”
6,500 trees in autumn 2020 and 2021
Following the planting of the Royal Parks trees, most of the 6,500 trees will be planted across the UK over the next two autumns. The varieties of cherry trees to be planted as part of this project are all of Japanese origin, most of them Beni-yutaka, Taihaku and Somei-Yoshino, which have been chosen for their variation in colour, timing, and historical significance.
The Taihaku, or Great White Cherry, is a large, single white blossom variety which became extinct in Japan but was reintroduced to its homeland by Britain’s Collingwood 'Cherry' Ingram in 1932.
Nick Biddle, Park Manager of The Regent’s Park, The Royal Parks, said: “This wonderful gift of cherry blossoms will further enrich this historic park, providing beautiful blossoms in spring and sensational colour in autumn, so that generations to come can enjoy the natural beauty of these very special trees which embody our love of nature and our friendship with Japan.”