British who saved the Japanese cherry blossoms

There are many cherry trees in the city of Edinburgh. When the cherry blossoms are on the side of the city center (near the castle) and the “big grass” on the south side of the old city, the purple cherry blossoms are as bright as clouds. The flowers of these two places reached their peak in the last days of April, attracting countless citizens and tourists to stop.

However, many people may not know that there is another place to see cherry blossoms in Edinburgh: the Edinburgh-Kyoto Friendship Garden in Lauriston Castle in the northwest corner of the city. The cherry tree here is about a week before the flowering period, and the flower is full of light red double-flowered flowers.

In fact, in early April of this year, an fragrant cherry blossom in the Edinburgh Botanical Garden has blossomed, and it is a pure white flower.

The cherry blossoms are rich in variety, color and shape, and are interlaced before and after the flowering season. This is the characteristic of English cherry blossoms. Japanese female journalist Abe Sasuke once said that this was the biggest shock when she first came to the UK, because in Japan, most of the cherry blossoms are of the same variety, open at the same time, and withered after a few days, so the cherry blossoms will be “The splendid, unfortunate life” is linked and becomes a symbol of “Japanese nationality.”

The shock brought by this contrast led her to delve into the relationship between cherry blossoms and Japanese history. In a recent book, she reviewed how the wild cherry blossoms of Japan were dyed by a single species during the modernization wave after the Meiji Restoration. Yoshino Sakura replaced.

Yoshino Sakura is a product of artificial breeding. It cannot be naturally propagated and can only be transplanted by means of grafting. Therefore, Japanese cherry trees are mostly “cloned”. Not only the petals have the same shape and color, but also the flowering period is the same. . Therefore, the connection between cherry blossoms and Japanese nationality is actually only a conceptual construction of modern times. Unfortunately, this association has been used by Japanese militarists as a tool to expand its influence.

However, the most attractive part of Abe’s new book is a story about an Englishman. Collingwood Ingram was born in a wealthy family. He was very interested in ornithology when he was young. He went to Japan to collect bird specimens. After World War I, he fell in love with cherry blossoms and began collecting cherry blossom varieties from all over the world to breed and breed in his private garden in Kent. He is also known as “Sakura Ingram”.

During his visit to Japan in 1926, someone showed him a painting with Taihaku and told him that this ancient cherry blossom was extinct. His response was “the cherry blossoms in my yard”, and the process of returning Taibai Sakura back to Japan began.

He sent the Taibai cherry sticks from the United Kingdom, and received the Japanese Sano Fujioweimen in Kyoto. At that time, the British ship to Japan had to be opened for more than a month. The first time the branch was sent to Japan, it had dried up and died. On the second shipment, the branches were embedded in the potatoes to keep them moist. However, when they were opened in Japan, they were found to have rotted. When the reason was analyzed, it was found that it was difficult to keep the branches at a low temperature because the ships had to pass through the tropics.

So on the third attempt, Ingram no longer chose to ship, but instead transported it across the Siberian railway and finally successfully sent Taibai Sakura back to Japan. When Abu Shinko’s new book was published in the UK, the subtitle was called “The British who saved the Japanese cherry blossoms”.

Taibai Sakura is a flowery white cherry blossom with more than 300 trees in the Alnwick Garden in northeast England. When I went a few years ago, the cherry tree was too small. When I grew up, it would be a beautiful scene when I was in full bloom every year.