Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms ()

Ah, spring at last! The days are noticeably longer, and the drab grays and browns of winter are melting into the background as nature’s greatest show treats us to our first few glimpses of bright colors and blossoming beauty. Sometimes spring feels like if you blink, you miss it, and we sure don’t want that to happen! Here’s a handy guide to the general order in which the blossoms on the trees and the flowers of the fields in southern Germany make their appearances, followed by a handful of places where nature’s show is at its finest.

February – March

The first of spring’s early blossoming flowers is the snowdrop, a single white flower facing downward on its thin stalk, followed in short order by the crocus in its various shades of purple, orange, white and cream. Cheery yellow daffodils and tulips are quick to follow, and primulas join the scene in short order. In shiny-leafed hedges, the tiny yellow flowers of the Oregon grape open up to the world.

Magnolia trees burst into bloom and forsythia bushes, with their stalks of bright yellow blossoms, appear like rays of sunshine. It’s not only the Japanese who delight at “Hanami,” their word for taking in the sight of the tender blossoms on cherry trees. Apple, pear, plum and other fruit-bearing trees bloom in quick succession, as do the almond trees.

April – May

The candle-like blossoms of chestnuts begin to appear in whites, yellows and pinks, depending on the species. Lilacs in bright and tender purples, as well as white, show off their tiny blossoms and infuse the air with their heady fragrance. Irises delight the many who consider them their favorite flowers.

Azaleas have their day in the sun, as do elderflowers, whose blossoms are collected and boiled to create a syrup that is used to flavor drinks. The majestic empress tree, with its profusion of purple flowers, adds brilliant splashes of color to the landscape.

June – July

Linden trees, also known as lime trees, come alive with their downy yellowy-whitish flowers and seduce with their honey-like scent. The flowers are gathered and dried to make a tea used to battle fevers in folk medicine. Rhododendrons display their full glory.

Among the last, but not the least, tree to bloom is the Persian silk tree, with its fernlike leaves and heads of silky pink and white threads. Its sweet blooms are just as attractive to bees and butterflies as they are to human beings.

Feast your eyes on flowers

Botanical gardens, city parks, cemeteries and castle gardens are great places to spot purposefully planted flowers and to enjoy blooms in less obvious settings.

Crocuses: The town of Bad Teinach-Zavelstein, in the north of the Black Forest some 30 miles west of Stuttgart, is famed for its fields of crocus blossoms. Enjoy this sight from the comfort of home by following their progression through the blooming season on Facebook.

Daffodils: In the shaded river valleys surrounding Monschau in Rheinland-Pfalz, millions of diminutive narcissi spread out like a welcoming yellow carpet. A 10-mile hiking trail leading through the Perlenbechtal, in the Eifel region, is just the place to spot them, and April is the month to do so.

Almond blossoms: The Pfälzer Mandelpfad (Palatinate almond path) is a 60-mile themed route along the German Wine Road meandering between Bockenheim in the north and Schweigen-Rechtenbach in the south. A village famed for its almond tree orchards is Gimmeldingen, just north of Neustadt.

In Baden-Württemberg, the villages of Sternenfels and Diefenbach, located roughly between Stuttgart and Heidelberg, are known for their almond trees. Visitors swarm to admire their blossoms at a fest held in the vineyards in early April.

Cherry blossoms: In Bonn’s Nordstadt neighborhood, just north of Bonn’s Old Town, a street by the name of Heerstrasse is famed for its pretty cherry blossoms.

Baden-Württemberg’s favorite Hanami spot is the Leonberger Castle, the site of the Pomeranzengarten, a terraced garden dating back to the late Renaissance period.

Japan Digest lists Hofheim am Taunus, Berchtesgaden, Burg Teck and Schwetzingen Castle among its top ten picks for Hanami in Germany.

Irises: The town of Eriskirch, just to the south of Friedrichshafen on the shores of beautiful Lake Constance, is home to a nature reserve in which thousands of Siberian irises bloom from the end of May through June.

Fruit orchards: For an epic road trip, make way north to the suburbs of Hamburg where the Altes Land, one of northern Europe’s largest fruit-growing areas, offers endless orchards in bloom. This land of marshes and meadows is ideally explored by bike or on foot.

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