Capel Manor College chosen as site for Sakura Cherry Tree project

Capel Manor College, Sakura cherry tree project

Capel Manor College has been chosen as one of the hundreds of sites across the UK to be gifted Cherry Trees from Japan as part of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project.

Over 6,500 Sakura Cherry Trees are being distributed to more than 400 schools and 160 sites in all four countries of the UK from St Ives to Aberdeen and Londonderry, Cardiff and several of London’s biggest parks.

The Sakura Cherry Tree Project formed to celebrate the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020, which aimed to showcase Japan’s multifaceted attractions in the UK. The trees aim to bring the UK-Japan relationship closer to communities and symbolise the friendship between the countries that can be supported and enjoyed by future generations to come.

The Project was formally launched in November 2019 with a planting ceremony at The Regent’s Park which was attended by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Japanese Ambassador to the UK, Yasumasa Nagamine, Founder and Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project, Keisaku Sandy Sano, and local school children.

50 trees arrived at Capel Manor College’s Enfield Campus in January 2021 and included three varieties: Prunus beni-yutaka, Prunus Tai-haku and Prunus x yedoensis.

With the help of the College’s horticulture apprentices, 40 of the 50 trees have now been planted within the grounds of Capel Manor Gardens in time for a hoped-for re-opening of the Gardens to the public as COVID-19 restrictions ease. There are over 60 garden styles and landscape features to visit within the beautiful 30-acre grounds which are managed by the College’s staff and students.

Julie Dowbiggin, National Gardening Centre and Plant Sales Manager at Capel Manor Gardens, said: “The whole project is about Japan-UK Season of Culture which celebrates the friendship between the two countries. Japan were looking for co-operation from parks, schools and gardens to plant Cherry Trees and when we were asked to participate, we said yes.”

She continued: “The Cherry Trees will enhance the Gardens greatly. In Japan there is a tradition known as Hanami where in spring, and when the transient beauty of the cherry blossom is at its best, it is a custom for families, colleagues and friends to gather under the trees to enjoy the blossom and have a picnic. We will have a lovely display of blossom in the spring, and we hope that in the future we will be able to have our own Hanami.”

The College is hoping to have a formal planting ceremony to mark this momentous event as soon as current COVID-19 restrictions allow.

Malcolm Goodwin, Principal at Capel Manor College, said: “Whilst we cannot formally celebrate the official planting of these beautiful trees at the moment, I would like to thank the Sakura Project, our dedicated and skilful gardeners, and everyone involved in this project. The Cherry Trees are a wonderful addition to the Gardens and will bring colour, joy and hope to everyone that sees them for many years to come.”