I took the family to Alnwick Garden earlier this week, hoping to see their magnificent Taihaku Cherry Orchard in full blossom. Unfortunately the sakura were slightly past their best (a week earlier would have been perfect) but that is the problem with having to book tickets well in advance.
Even so, there was still plenty of pretty blossom left and the cold wind was blowing petals in the wind. This place would be packed if it was in Japan. There are dozens of wooden two-seater swings where couples can relax and enjoy the fleeting spring blooms.
The 329 cherry trees at Alnwick are of the Taihaku variety with large white blossom petals. This is said to be the largest collection of this species in the world. This tree had been extinct in Japan until 1932 when a British ornithologist and plant collector called Collingwood “Cherry” Ingram took cuttings from a tree in Sussex (which had been earlier imported from Japan) and reintroduced the Lost Taihaku to Japan. All Alnwick Garden’s Taihaku trees are descended from the same Sussex tree.
Alnwick Garden was the inspiration of the Duchess of Northumberland. It opened in 2001 utilising a 12 acre site in the grounds of Alnwick Castle and it has been enhanced and expanded in the years since.
The centrepiece is the Grand Cascade featuring 120 water jets and fountains. The Pavilion and Visitor Centre seen behind contains a gift shop and food outlets.
The walled Ornamental Garden contains beautifully arranged flower beds and borders. The way their gardeners have trained the apple and other trees into neat horizontal branches is very impressive.
The Poison Garden is a popular feature. It contains around 100 seemingly innocuous and ordinary looking plants but it turns out they are toxic or narcotic and potentially deadly. Useful if you are planning to bump off your husband but I preferred the Ornamental Garden.
Other attractions include a Rose Garden, a Bamboo Labyrinth and Serpent Garden.
Closed at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions is this fantastic treehouse, the largest wooden treehouse in the world, built around 16 mature lime trees.It serves as a restaurant and wedding venue.
Overall I would say that Alnwick Garden is an excellent attraction and hopefully it will continue to improve. You can find details of opening hours and ticket prices on their official website.
How to Get to Alnwick Garden
You can find the location on this map: