When is cherry blossom in bloom in London?
Generally, April is cherry blossom (or sakura) month in London. But the blooms can appear as early as March — and last as late as May. If it's been a mild spring, blossom arrives earlier. A cold spring means it won't flower until later.
Different varieties of cherry blossom tree blossom at different times. The average tree only blossoms for about two weeks — so it's no use planning to go back at the weekend to get that Instagram shot, as it might not be there.
Happily, the cherry blossom season usually coincides with the magnolia season, making certain corners of the city something of a pink-wash for a couple of beautiful weeks.
Cherry blossom trees at Kew Gardens
London's biggest botanical garden is the obvious place to go for a bit of blossom-bothering. Head to the rose garden behind the famous Palm House. Here, you'll find multiple different varieties of cherry blossom tree, their variant colours working in beautiful harmony (species labels are provided for the botanically minded) and you can get a great shot with the Palm House in the background.
Follow the path round until it becomes 'Cherry Walk', and the section between King William's Temple and the Temperate House is lined with deeper pink cherry blossom. Frame your shot right and you'll get the Pagoda in too.
These aren't the only cherry blossom trees at Kew Gardens, but they offer the best photo opportunities. Time your visit right and the magnolias might be in bloom too.
Cherry blossom trees at Kyoto Garden, Holland Park
Japan's famous for its breathtaking cherry blossom trees, so it makes sense that London's Japanese Kyoto garden is home to some sakura. The pale pink trees tower over the garden's koi carp pond and miniature waterfall, adding a splash of colour to the zen haven.
Cherry blossom trees in Greenwich Park
Climb up the Greenwich Park hill and head beyond the Observatory and Planetarium. Follow the vehicular Blackheath Avenue until a perpendicular footpath on the right branches off towards Rangers House and rose garden.
Along this straight path, trees lean into each other, creating a Japanese-style cherry blossom tunnel. This is the closest you'll get to Japan in London. No surprise, then, that it's one of London's busiest spots for photographers. The benches underneath make it a great spot for a romantic picnic. If there's any space.
Cherry blossom trees at St Paul's Cathedral
Perhaps the most Instagram-friendly of London's cherry blossom offerings are the minimal trees outside St Paul's Cathedral. Frame these rosy branches right and you'll get them 'crawling' over Sir Christopher Wren's iconic dome. Extra 'Gram points if you capture a cloudless blue sky in the background — the pink really pops against an aqua backdrop. Find the trees in St Paul's Churchyard, to the south of the cathedral.
Cherry blossom tree in Regent's Park
The cherry blossom trees on Chester Road in Regent's Park were removed in 2015: the diseased Prunus 'Kanzan' variety were replaced with the Prunus 'Sunset Boulevard'. But they're back in their rightful place now, lining the avenue-style road, one of only two vehicle roads in the whole park.
Further cherry blossom trees can be found in the Avenue Gardens, close to the Broad Walk
Cherry blossom trees in St James's Park
There aren't many cherry blossom trees in St James's Park, but the few it does have might just be London's most central. The odd tree is dotted about the lake, but for the best snaps, head to the Buckingham Palace end, and face towards Horse Guards at the eastern end of the lake. As the fairytale-esque buildings of Whitehall peek out beneath the trees, a cherry blossom tree leans towards the water.
Cherry blossom trees in Herne Hill
A lesser-known cherry blossom spot — specifically Stradella Road and Winterbrook Road, two residential streets off Half Moon Lane. We discovered their rose-tinged offerings during a booze-led exploration of the area.
Cherry blossom in Kensington Gardens
Hyde Park's disappointingly lacking in cherry blossom, but its westerly sibling Kensington Gardens steps up to the mark. Enter via the Lancaster Gate entrance to be greeted by an explosion of pink and white petals.
Elsewhere, the area round the Albert Memorial in the southern end of the Gardens is home to some of London's most impressive cherry blossom trees.
Cherry blossom in Battersea Park
As it's not a Royal Park, Battersea Park is often overlooked. But take a wander down Spring Tree Walk for views (and snaps) of candy cotton trees with the iconic Battersea Power Station chimneys in the background.
Specific London roads with cherry blossom trees
Thoroughfares that you probably have no business in at other times of year, but are worth a detour in sakura season. Just try not to p*** the residents off with a lengthy photoshoot:
- Redcliffe Road, Chelsea: In the tube desert of SW10, the roaring traffic of Fulham Road gives way to Redcliffe Road, a residential street of gorgeous townhouses, lined with cherry blossom trees. Probably the closest to Mary Poppins' Cherry Tree Lane you'll find in 21st century London.
- Courtfield Gardens, South Kensington: Stand nose to bud with the blossom of this tree, whose roots are planted at basement level, making this street corner an ideal selfie spot. Find it on the north-west corner of the Courtfield Gardens-Collingham Road junction.
- Vallance Road, Whitechapel: Running between Bethnal Green and Whitechapel, Vallance Road doesn't sound like the most bucolic of locations. But among the newsagents and takeaway shops, a small grassy bank is home to a gathering of cherry blossom trees. Find them opposite the junction with Durward Street — a worthy east London entry among a sea of west London streets.
- Blithfield Street, Kensington: This tiny mews street punches way above its weight for Instagrammability — white and pastel coloured houses, old-fashioned lamp-posts, a teal wall adding an edgy aspect... and in April, a neat row of cherry trees lining each pavement.
Pink flowers at Kenwood House
It's not specifically cherry blossoms, but if it's general pink springtime flowers you're after, head to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. The gardens bristle with rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, which look their best in spring. It's hard to believe you're in London at all.