Andrew Bowie MP, joined a host of volunteers to help plant over 100 cherry trees at Stonehaven’s Mineralwell Park.
Nothing is more emblematic of Japan than sakura – the cherry blossoms symbolic of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life.
The iconic blossoms have long been used to celebrate friendships between Japan and other nations. In 1912, the Japanese government gifted 3,000 cherry blossoms to Washington DC, as a reminder of US ties with Japan. The city now hosts a National Cherry Blossom Festival, attracting large crowds to the Tidal Basin every year.
And Stonehaven now boasts a glade of cherry trees thanks to a gift from the Sakura Cherry Tree Project which is part of the the 2019/20 Japan-UK Season of Culture that aims to celebrate the friendship between our two countries.
A lesson in tree planting
On Friday, Andrew Bowie MP joined Cllr Wendy Agnew, pupils from Stonehaven’s primary schools, Sea Cadets and volunteers from the town’s Horizon Group, Rotary Club and Mens Shed to help the team from Aberdeenshire Council’s landscape services plant 120 trees – but only after they had all been shown how.
The Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine noted the North-east’s strong associations with Japan thanks to Fraserburgh-born Thomas Blake Glover who was instrumental in the industrialsation of Japan.
Mr Bowie said the trees planted, ”would thrill and enchant” future generations.”
The trees selected are ‘taihaku’, ‘somei yoshino’, and ‘beni-yutaka’ which will burst into colour with white, soft pink and vivid pink blossoms.
The taihaku or ‘great white’ had become extinct in Japan, and was re-introduced from the UK.
Cllr Wendy Agnew, who was instrumental in bringing the trees to Stonehaven said: ”The day was a great success and the pupils of the two primary schools who participated along with the Stonehaven Sea Cadets made it all worthwhile since I started the journey to be successful in acquiring the120 Cherry Trees for Stonehaven .
”I am told that my request for some 100 trees were increased to 120 which gave the town of Stonehaven the most trees awarded in Scotland. ”
In Japan, an annual tradition is the Hanami party. Hanami literally translates to “flower watching”, when friends and family gather round cherry blossom trees to picnic under the beautiful pink trees, often with the petals gently snowing from the branches when in full bloom – something the school pupils involved may soon hopefully enjoy with their families.
Yasumasa Nagamine, Japanese ambassador to the UK said the Sakura Cherry Tree Project will be a “celebration of the cordial ties between Japan and the UK.”
He added: “Just like our relationship, these trees will grow stronger as they mature and, each year when they blossom, I hope they bring joy to people across the UK and remind them of the deep friendship between our two nations and peoples.”