Where to catch the blossom in Oxon & Bucks
These are the kind of spring showers we like - being rained on by a bucketful of blossom. Hop over to these hanami hotspots to catch a gorgeous spring show
You’re spoilt for choice if you after a spot of botanical bathing in Hughenden. The 25-hectare Hughenden Park, to the north of High Wycombe, is something of a mecca for daffodil lovers who come to see the bobbing yellow flowers in swathes, and among them gnarly old blossom trees. It’s a magic combination and is free to explore.
There’s also blossom galore at the National Trust owned Hughenden Manor (below), which borders the park. It’s known for its apple blossom, with more than 50 varieties of old English apple trees in the orchard and walled garden, as well as pear and Morello and sweet cherries trained against the walls, which are at their best in April and May. You need to book a ticket in advance.
The iconic sandstone temples around the grand gardens of Stowe (below) are a stoic backdrop to the froth of white and pink blossom that flutters about the parkland in spring. There are myriad heritage apple trees in the Grecian Valley orchard as well as around the historic New Inn café and even between the rows of parking spaces in the car park. Stowe also has little magical pockets that are carpeted in daffs, gorgeous blue anemones, Turks head tulips, crocuses, and snake’s head and imperial fritillaries in the spring. Blossom buffs should head to the beds around Pebble Alcove for its cherry blossom and the orchard along Laurel Terrace for ancient apple trees. Book entrance tickets in advance
Woughton Community Orchard near Milton Keynes is one of a number of community orchards in the town. It’s planted with heritage and local varieties including Cox’s Orange Pippin and Arthur Turner from Buckinghamshire. The orchard plays host to apple days and blossom picnics and the fruit is free to take. Visitors are just asked not to climb the trees.
Greys Court (above) near Henley has a magical ‘garden of rooms’ including a crab apple arch and cherry blossom that flowers in sequence throughout spring. The fallen blossom gets caught in the cobble stones beneath the trees and leaves paths of pink and white. There’s also the scented clematis tunnel in May and the wisteria garden where a knot of ancient wisteria trunks and stems have created the walls and ceiling of an intricate maze.
It’s not all stately homes and country parks for blossom – Oxford city centre is known for its flowery spring showers. Good places to enjoy the blossom include the University Parks, where you can picnic besides carpets of spring bulbs and you might even catch some university sports matches if its term time. There are also blooming marvellous displays at Headington Hill Park with its gorgeous magnolias and unusual Japanese Bitter Orange trees, which flower in spring. In a city that’s rich with green spaces there’s also South Park, which has a fit trail and play area as well as spring flowering trees through which to admire the dreaming spires.
The five acres of orchards at Waterperry Gardens (above) include 50 varieties of apple alongside plums and pears, which bloom right across spring. The impeccably planted orchards are open to explore alongside the hedge mazes, fountains, walled gardens and garden centre, which stocks apple juice year-round as well as lots of tempting goodies for the green-fingered. Book timed entry slots in advance.
Harcourt Arboretum was bought by the Oxford Botanic Garden in the 1960s to preserve the collection of North American conifers, and to grow trees that couldn’t thrive in the alkaline soil in Oxford. It has a vast range of unusual flowering trees that put on quite the show in spring, from the Magnolia glade in May to the more delicate Judas Tree with its hot pink flowers to the white bell-shaped flowers of the Snowdrop Tree. There’s also daffodils galore and crocus and scilla, which look like bluebells (the real ones start popping up in April/May). Buy tickets in advance. The Oxford Botanic Gardens themselves are open right now and have a selection of fruit trees in the Lower Garden that will be in blossom over the next month, in addition to the spectacular magnolia displays.
Ok so we’ve crept over the border into Warwickshire here but Upton House and Gardens (above), just north of Banbury, is a little bit special on the blossom front. There’s the cherry blossom in the Wild Garden, including the spectacular Tibetan cherry tree with its stripy bark, and the orchard which blooms into life in April and May. Book tickets well ahead of your visit.
Cliveden is local to lots of Bucks and Oxon residents so its bountiful blossom deserves a mention. Flowering cherries and magnolias herald the arrival of spring then it’s the turn of the long tunnel of apple, plum, cherry and pear trees growing up iron archways in the Round Garden. Garden nerds should also check out the epic espalier and fan fruits growing up the walls of the Walled Garden. Blossom heaven.
If your green fingers are twitching to get the credit card out and add some blossom magic to your backyard, you could head to Bucks-based Bernwode Plants for it’s huge range of blossoms. The several hundred varieties include apples, pears, plums, gages, cherries, vines, medlars, quinces, and more, which can be planted at any time.
More inspiration for spring socials…