April 10, 2012

Hanami: A Celebration of Blossoms

Jardin Albert Kahn by Lorena Coletta
Spring arrives in Paris with such force that you can almost hear buds bursting into bloom. Trees will be stark and wintry in the morning and full of fresh new leaves that same afternoon. It happens so fast you dare not blink. The emergence of spring spreads over a few weeks because of all the microclimates in Paris. But no matter when it happens, the blossoming of the fruit trees is beautiful. Everyone has a favorite cerisier, prunier, or pommier.

Montmartre Cerisier by Petra Nass
There is the old Japanese Cherry Shirotae in the Jardins des Plantes, with its branches so heavy with white blossoms that they sweep the ground like a grand ball gown. There is the tiny cherry grove on the south side of Notre Dame, framing the towers and spires as if the plantings were done with just that service in mind. The fruit trees at Giverny come into bloom, and tulips and wisteria are mixed in, just to add to the celebration. The quiet gardens and rustic red Japanese bridges of Jardin Albert Kahn are also complimented by the soft white and pink blossoms.

The ultimate of fruit-tree ecstasy is in Parc de Sceaux (a short RER ride from Paris). Nowhere else can you be totally canopied by blossoms as in the two cherry groves in the park—an orchard of pink and an orchard of white.

Parc de Sceaux by Meredith Mullins
The Japanese have the time-honored tradition of Hanami, the viewing of the flower blossoms accompanied by a celebration (usually a picnic under the cherry trees). It is here in the Parc de Sceaux that the tradition is carried forward, as people come to sit under the trees and eat, drink, and rest on a carpet of cherry blossoms.

But the tradition can take place anywhere, so pick your favorite blossoming tree and celebrate spring!

(Let us know your favorite cerisier, pommier, or prunier ... if you're willing to share it.)

A Sky Full of Blossoms (Photo by Meredith Mullins)
Posted by Meredith Mullins