Cherry Blossoms: The Art that Enchanted Neruda

By José Luis Gallego, environmental communicator @ecogallego

The genus Prunus is one of the most common among our fruit trees. Peach, apricot, and almond trees are some of its most distinguished members. All of them can be found in the fields around the vineyards, where they coexist in perfect harmony and bloom at different intervals from mid-winter until well into the spring.

 

 

When flowering, all of these trees are a splendid sight to behold, but none comes close to the cherry tree.  

 

“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” The famous verse by Pablo Neruda reveals the emotions that the flowering of these trees inspire. A true spectacle of plant splendour, full of floral exuberance, which enraptured the great Chilean poet.

 

And understandably so – few sights are quite as spectacular as cherry trees in bloom. Their straight, smooth, coppery branches, still stripped of their leaves, begin to turn white in the soothing air of mild April mornings. 

 

 

Cherry trees

 

 

Within a few days, the blossoms that cover every inch of the branches are so abundant, they hardly seem real. At the peak of flowering, the cherry orchards resemble snow-covered fields: a living canvas that turns nature into a magnificent outdoor art gallery.

 

In Japan, the flowering of the cherry trees inspires true passion. The enthusiasm is so great that the Japanese even have a specific name for this natural wonder: hanami, a beautiful word that an interpreter with a poetic soul once translated as “the art of contemplating flowers”. And for the Japanese, the most beautiful of all the flowers that envelop the branches of trees is the sakura, the cherry blossom.  

 

Every spring, the many and meticulously maintained parks and gardens of the cities and towns in the land of the rising sun offer one of the most spectacular visual displays in nature: the explosion of the sakuras. 

 

Cherry branche

 

 

Strolling beneath the bountiful blossoms of the cherry trees, which release a shower of soft petals with the slightest breeze, is one of the greatest rituals to commune with nature. A display that brings together millions of people of all ages who, for one day, turn off their phones and dedicate themselves entirely to appreciating the beauty of nature, falling under the spell of hanami.

 

In Spain, we also have several places where we can enjoy cherry trees in bloom, but the most renowned is undoubtedly the Valle del Jerte. 

 

Located in the north of the province of Cáceres, this natural enclave transforms into a vast Japanese garden amid the rich lowlands of Extremadura.  The sight of millions of cherry trees in bloom, extending across the entire region, its fields blanketed in countless, exquisite sakuras, is one of the most extraordinary scenes of the Iberian spring. A spectacle everyone should witness at least once in life.

 

In celebration, the towns and villages organize a variety of different events as a show of friendship with Japan and its culture: workshops of Japanese floral art or ikebana; performances of Japanese taiko drumming; kabuki, one of Japan's oldest forms of theatre; exhibitions of Zen gardens; concerts of traditional Japanese music; and arts and crafts fairs. 

 

The festivities would not be complete, of course, without excursions – on foot or horseback – to some of the best spots in the region where we can contemplate the cherry blossoms up close. The flowers that enchanted Neruda, one of the finest examples of what spring can do with nature.

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