Alnwick Gardens ~ April 2018 ~ Part 1 ~ Tai Haku Blossom

Cherry blossom, don’t you just love how it bursts forth at the end of winter, piercing the grey skies in defiance with their lush pink or white bunches of blossom. I have a  lovely pink one in my front garden, but Sophie doesn’t, so when Spring comes, we go off on a blossom hunt.  This year Sophie found out that Alnwick gardens have an orchard of over 300 Tai Haku cherry blossom trees, the biggest in the world apparently.

The story of the Tai Haku is lovely. Back in the day, a chap called Captain Collingwood Ingram, was obsessed with cherry blossom trees, and learned so much about them that in 1926 he was invited to give a talk to members of the Japanese Cherry Society, where he was shown a painting of a superb cherry with huge white flowers, which, he was told, was sadly extinct.  But Ingram wasn’t an expert for nothing, he recognised the tree in the painting as being the same as a tree he had seen in a Sussex garden.  As the tree was on it’s last legs, he hot footed it over there, took several cuttings from it, and today all Tai Haku trees in the world are descended from those cuttings. He re-introduced it to Japan in 1932.

The Duchess of Northumberland (who owns and developed the gardens as well as Alnwick Castle – Hogwarts to my American pals 🙂 )has added 50 double seated swing seats to the orchard, and it’s just fabulous. When we got there a carpet of daffodils covered the grass under the trees. SO many photographs, hard to choose, but here are some of my favourites of the day








Of course there’s much more to Alnwick gardens, the orchard is just a small bit of it, so stay tooned for the rest of our day there.

All pictures can be clicked on to get the embiggened and embettered experience 🤪

Day 284~366

I was telling Frego about my ‘tree’ month back in May, and how much I’d had fun doing it, so she asked me to take her to see it so she could get a couple of shots there herself.

Shooting the Tree
Shooting the Tree

There were big black clouds just creeping up so Frego shot the tree with them behind her to get a bit of blue sky before it got eaten up.  Then she wanted to climb the tree and do a shot of the landscape.


And on the way home she spotted the graffiti wall, “what does it mean?” she asked me..




Day 152~366

Today is the last day I’ve visited the tree, at least for the purposes of the 366 theme. I was a bit disappointed the weather was a bit grim, very windy and cloudy and ready to rain, but at least I had the tree to myself.

Firstly a little climb 🙂


Can’t get as high as the young’uns, but 2nd rung wasn’t too bad.

In a few months time I’ll be doing a ‘Crystal Ball’ month, so I thought I’d take it to the tree and do something different than straight shots.




and my pic of the day


And here is this months collage of the shots for May

PicMonkey Collage

I really enjoyed this Month. I didn’t know how I’d get 31 different shots of one tree, but it happened with the help of birds & bugs & boys & girls, and the weather was somewhat off putting a few times, but I feel like the tree is a good pal, and I’ll miss going to see it.

Farewell Tree 😘😢


Day 151~366

As often happens when going to the tree with a particular shot in mind, I get there and a different shot is waiting for me.
Today it was Ladies Day at the tree. The ladies were very excited to be part of my project 🙂 I can’t remember all of their names, but there’s a Francis and a Grace so thanks to them and their friends for being so lovely.



Day 150~366

The tree is in full on leafed up to the eyebrows mode now, looking pretty. It’s been a long day, have been out photographing flowers in Birkheads Secret Garden with my pal Sophie, and then Tanfield Railway, then had to do the tree still. Lots of photo’s to play with 🙂

here’s the tree today


Day 149~366

Trotted over to the tree this afternoon, a bit of sunshine today, though I’ve found that doesn’t help when shooting upwards as the sky gets blown out, not to worry, I’ve got used to the settings I need to cope with it, mostly.

Today I found a nail hammered into one of the upper branches, presumably to hang a swing of some sort from.


But the shot of the day is of some fungus growing on another upper branch, and a tiny spider weaving a web between all the splurges of fungus. The branch is quite high up so had to use the 50-230 cheapo zoom I have.


On the way home I noticed a few spots of colour in the sea of green, and focused on these isolated sentinels of the marshland.

all alone
all alone

seems odd to find just one bluebell on it’s own as they usually are a carpet of flowers in woodlands.


Not sure what the next few are but they stood out amid the grassland




and one of the neighbours has rose bushes in their front bit, but don’t really look after them.



I added a texture to this one for the fun of it

day149-8wand that’s it for today. Only 3 more days of tree now.

Day 148~366

It was bug day at the tree today, with tiny tiny buglettes, not sure what they are


and I don’t really want to know, have been itching ever since I saw them!

Then I spotted a newly hatched caterpillar on the tree trunk and followed it as it motored along, he really moved fast!




and this is my daily shot


on the way home I saw a bee


and a daisy just about to bloom


came across a snail climbing up a fence


and some seeding dandelions all along the path



and the neighbours clematis is already losing petals


and that’s it for today!

Day 147~366

It get’s a bit intense just focussing on the tree everyday, I’ve found that doing the 366 is so all-absorbing that I don’t take many photo’s of anything else, except iPhone shots of the cat being cute. It’s rained a mighty amount over the past 2 1/2 days and nights, but today it stopped in the afternoon so I went to the tree without the brolly, and found the world after the rain looked really pretty.  I sometimes rage against the weather for keeping me in and stopping me going out to play with my camera, and I miss going off to visit new places to inspire my photography, but the Tree has taught me that you don’t need to travel far to have a good shooting fix. It’s just a 5 minute walk to get to the tree from my house, and all these photo’s were taken on the way home.  May has been a great month, as every day different things bloom, buds open, swamps dry up, then fill up, sunshine,clouds, rain, or a combination of all three, everyday has something new to see or find.  My neighbours all have gorgeous plants growing over their fences too which is jolly decent of them, and they are part of my walk to the tree.  Today with the 60mm macro lens attached to my fuji-XT1 I looked under and over and through, got down low and went from above, and had a fine old time lost in the process of seeing through a lens. My advice to anyone in a mojo slump, to walk out of the door with your camera, a couple of lenses, walk for 5 minutes, then put your camera to your eye and take an hour to get home 🙂 it’s such an adventure!

And so, on to the tree. Today I found a cute little bug on the lower branch, he’ll do for today I thought, he was so tiny, about 8mm total length, not great shots but I did the best I could with the 60mm.



This next is my favourite as you can see a little white pipe thing/collection bag (I dunno) on t he side of him.


And here’s what else I saw..




















Oh! nearly forgot..






Day 146~366

I did these in B&W, because today has been grey, and windy and rainy, and it was  horrible going out to shoot the tree. Took my umbrella to protect my camera and lenses whilst I was changing them. Didn’t take the tripod as carrying camera bag, umbrella and that would have been too much, especially as the wind was trying to steal my brolly, so had to use a high ISO.


I think you can make out the silvery water streams running down the bark.



and finally I chose this next one as my shot of the day because I can see a treeman with rain dripping off his nose, blowing raspberries at the weather.



Day 145~366

It was summer this morning when I set off for work, and winter again by the time I got home. I didn’t want to spend ages in the cold so decided to macro some of the interesting tree bark features. I wonder what happens to make these.
Obviously the first thought that came into my head was ‘ducks arses’! 🙂


Day 144~366

Well I struggled with this one, took lots of shots and different exposures and tried to use the HDR programme, but nothing looked right. So have used a RAW shot and faffed the heck out of it in lightroom & NikFX processing software. I was wanting to show the carpet of buttercups now surrounding my tree with the orangey/pinky glow of the sky, but it didn’t work out. I was being attacked by midges too which didn’t help matters. Never mind, I will try again at some point, maybe in different light!

Not my best, but, always learning something!



Day 143~366

Last night we had a sunset spectacular, so firstly this is a different tree, my old Eucalyptus which has followed me from Mum’s garden, to my house in Hemel Hempstead, potted and put on the balcony at my flat in South Shields, then to the back garden of my home here, and then to the front garden. It has to  be propped up as it leans mightily to the right if left to its own devices, and this the top of  it, silhouetted against a glorious sky.


And now onto my Oak tree!  It rained a fair bit today, so off I went in the downpour to catch the tree leaves in the rain, it had a good drink today.







Back to work tomorrow, so will be doing evening shots of the tree, fingers crossed for more cool sunsets 🙂