LYING on a slope beyond the Grand Cascade, the Cherry Orchard at The Alnwick Garden is planted with 350 cherry trees.
The Tai Haku, an ancient Japanese tree, is also known as the great white cherry because of its large white blossom, and the Alnwick attraction is the only place in the UK to see it planted in such numbers.
The largest of its kind in the world, the Tai Haku Cherry Orchard at the Garden is a magnificent sight to behold in spring, and one which might have never been possible after the Tai Haku became extinct in Japan and was thought to be lost to the world.
That was until Captain Collingwood Ingram, an expert of flowering cherry trees, found one specimen in Sussex in 1923 and since then every Tai Haku alive in the world today comes from that single plant.
Each April or May, the Garden’s Cherry Orchard becomes a beautiful bank of white flowers, with the petals falling like snow, and with more than 600,000 pink Mistress tulips planted under the trees, the final effect is a spectacular carpet of flowers.
And on Saturday, the Cherry Orchard will play host to an intimate ceremony where visitors can dedicate a cherry tree in memory of a loved-one.
With just 50 remaining cherry trees available for dedication in the orchard, it provides an opportunity for relatives and friends alike to cement a memory within the attraction’s walls.
Guests will be greeted by the Duchess of Northumberland in the Pavilion from 6pm, followed by a procession towards the Cherry Orchard where the Choristers from Newcastle Cathedral will immerse the quiet garden in soothing song, as relatives take the time to visit their dedicated tree.
The Rev Ian Flintoft will say prayers on the evening, before leading guests to the pond at the foot of the Orchard, where they will then be invited to float a lantern in memory of their loved one.
The commemoration is part of the Garden’s wider Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, as well as Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, introducing different aspects of Japanese culture to visitors.
Demonstrations from The Way of The Drum, a celebration of traditional Taiko drumming, will take place at 11am and 1pm on Saturday and will be followed by drumming workshops for children in the Pavilion.
A 40-minute performance will take place at 3pm.
A Japanese tea ceremony will be held in the Garden’s atrium on April 28 and 29. Also called the Way of Tea, a Japanese tea master will demonstrate to visitors the ceremonial preparation and presentation of green tea and will offer the chance to taste the tea accompanied by Japanese sweet delicacy.
The Kite Flyers Association will be soaring into The Garden on both weekends of the festival, to carry out performances between 10.30am and 3.30pm.
A number of Japanese-themed family activities on Sunday, as well as on April 28 and 29, will introduce visitors to everything from calligraphy to the traditional Japanese art of origami.
For more information or to find out more about dedicating a cherry tree at Saturday’s ceremony, visit www.alnwickgarden.com or call 01665 511855.