Great white cherry tree - Prunus tai haku
The avenue of cherry trees that run to the Children’s play area is a gift from Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, a Japanese martial arts organisation established in Kyoto in 1895. 111 trees were presented as a gift to mark the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Accord and to celebrate their visit to the UK.
This particular cultivar of the species Prunus serrulata had been lost in Japan and was re-discovered growing, of all places in a private garden in Benenden.
Collingwood Ingram, an avid plant collector and gardener, was an authority on Japanese flowering cherry trees. As a result he was invited to Japan in 1926 to speak to the Japanese about their national tree. While there he was shown a picture of a cherry tree, then extinct in Japan, but which Collingwood recognised as a cultivar he had in his garden in Kent! It was re-introduced to the world (and Japan) as the Great White Cherry.
Collingwood Ingram died in 1981 but a book about his contribution to the survival of Japanese cherry trees was published in Japan in March 2016.