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Where to find ‘Flower Rain’ in Sussex

Heard of the Japanese concept of Hanami? Meaning 'flower viewing', it's the practice of observing and enjoying the seasonal blossom of Spring. Here's our pick of Sussex blossom hotspots.

We’re all familiar by now with the Japanese concept of ‘forest bathing’, nothing to do with lying down in a bath of pine needles (thankfully) but rather the idea of immersion in nature and its many wellness benefits.

But have you heard of Hanami? Roughly translated as ‘flower viewing’ this is the practice of enjoying the fleeting beauty of blossom as trees burst into flower after a long winter.

James Dobson

There’s even a gorgeous Japanese expression, Hana no ame, that refers to the experience of falling petals surrounding you as you stroll through a garden or orchards and translates as ‘flower rain’.

Traditionally people enjoy Hanami by gathering on a tarpaulin underneath a tree – cherry or plum are the most common in Japan – to enjoy a picnic. Often the blossoming tree is strung with lanterns. Celebrations can also take place at night – known as yozakura.

If you fancy trying a bit of Hanami here in the UK, and replacing the actual rain with some flower rain, now is the perfect time as trees burst into bloom. Here’s some of the best National Trust hotspots in Sussex – and what to look for. Do check the website before you go and book in advance.

David Levenson

Nymans,  near Haywards Heath

The Wall Garden at Nymans is known for its lavish displays of blossom, camellia and spring bulbs. Over the next couple of weeks the magnificent magnolias will burst into bloom, followed by a glorious display of rhododendron later on in the season.

Bateman’s, Burwash

Blackthorn, hawthorn and spindle come into bloom from now until mid-April, followed by the candy-toned pear, apple and crab-apple from mid-April until May.

Sheffield Park and Garden, Haywards Heath

Head over from late April onwards to enjoy a blaze of colour from rare varieties of rhododendron and azalea.

Woolbeding Gardens (from April), Midhurst

One to visit for the beautiful apple blossom, which climbs up the walls in cordons in the herb garden alongside spiralling topiary and central sundial.

Standen House, East Grinstead

From mid-April the flowerbeds and borders at Standen will erupt into a magical spring spectacle. Last year more than 22,000 bulbs were planted so expect a spectacular display! There’s also apple blossom in the kitchen garden, including Bramley apple espalier trees planted back in the 1890s.

Petworth House, Petworth

Beds close to the house have been realigned and replanted so expect a glorious display this year. In the spring meadow, daffodils and cyclamen will be joined by the 300 native tulips planted in 2018, along with showier varieties in the Servant’s Quarters and several new magnolia trees.

John Miller

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