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  • Published: 17 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784706920
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $19.99

'Cherry' Ingram

The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms




A richly illustrated and award-winning Japanese biography, history and exploration of cherry blossom told through the life of an English amateur botanist, rewritten for English readers

The irresistible story of Japanese cherry blossoms, threatened by political ideology and saved by an unknown Englishman'This is not just a tale of trees, but of . . . endeavour, war and reconciliation' Sunday TimesCollingwood Ingram, born in 1880, became known as 'Cherry' for his defining obsession. As a young man, he travelled to Japan and learned of the astonishing displays of cherry blossoms, or sakura.

On a return visit in 1926, Ingram witnessed frightening changes to the country's cherry population. A cloned variety was sweeping the landscape and being used as a symbol for Japan's expansionist ambitions. Determined to protect the diversity of the trees, Ingram began sending the rare varieties from his own garden in England back to Japan with the help of a network of 'cherry guardians'.

This is an eloquent portrait of an extraordinary man whose legacy we enjoy every spring, and his unsung place in botanic history.

'Engrossing . . . A portrait of great charm and sophistication' Christopher Harding, Guardian

Winner of the 2020 Award for Excellence from The Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries

  • Published: 17 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784706920
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Naoko Abe

Naoko Abe is a Japanese journalist and non-fiction writer. She was the first female political writer to cover the prime minister’s office, the foreign ministry and the defence ministry at Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest newspapers. Since moving to London with her British husband and their two boys in 2001, she has worked as a freelance writer and has published five books in Japanese. Her biography of Collingwood Ingram in Japanese won the prestigious Nihon Essayist Club Award in 2016. She has now written an adaptation of the book for English-language readers. She is a trained classical pianist and an advanced yoga practitioner.

Praise for 'Cherry' Ingram

This is not just a tale of trees, but of the symbolism of the cherry tree to Japan: of endeavour, war and reconciliation

Sunday Times, Books of the Year

Sympathetic and engrossing... a portrait of great charm and sophistication, rich in its natural and historical range, guaranteeing that you won’t look at cherry blossoms the same way again

Dr Christopher Harding, Guardian

A remarkable bookexcellent...fascinating, a treat for gardeners, cherry-growers and historians

Robin Lane Fox, Financial Times

[A] deeply moving book -- beautifully written, and a huge achievement in terms of research

Claire Kohda Hazelton, The Spectator

Set against the narrative arc of Japanese history, journalist Naoko Abe's account of the man behind the preservation of her country's national symbol is both sympathetic and compelling... On reading this book, beautifully illustrated with atmospheric period shots and colour plates, you may well determine, as I have, to visit Japan at cherry blossom time

Vanessa Berridge, Sunday Express

[A] lovely book… Two tensions animate this book: the difficulty of sending fragile scions around the world and successfully grafting them; and the wrenching historical context… It is hard to view the blossoms of the somei-yashino with such tender joy after reading Ms Abe’s book

Economist

An engaging biography of a man who "helped to change the face of spring"

Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

A page turner... Naoko Abe parallels her biography with a comprehensive history of cherries, intersected with major moments in Japanese history... There is a heartwarming end to the tale that the author spins with skill and erudition

Tania Compton, Country Life

‘Cherry’ Ingram is a meticulously researched book: Abe undertook dozens of interviews with relatives of the sakuramori… [and] sifted through Ingram’s extensive diaries and condenses the often impenetrable history of Japan’s feudal and imperial ages

Alice Vincent, Daily Telegraph

After reading [‘Cherry’ Ingram], the annual ritual of hanami (flower-viewing) will never be quite the same again… an extraordinary story

Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times

In retelling [Ingram’s] story from her own cultural perspective, Abe has produced an engaging work that adds illuminating definition to the world about which he wrote

Jodie Jones, Gardens Illustrated

An enchanting story about an Englishman’s attempts to preserve Japan’s rich cherry tree heritage in the face of rapid modernization

Japan Times

An admiring and engaging portrait of an eccentric British enthusiast, one of the last great amateur naturalists of the Edwardian Era

Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History Magazine

Remarkable… Combining vast historical research, perceptive cultural interpretation, and a gift for keen, biographical storytelling, Abe’s study of one man’s passion for a singular plant species celebrates the beneficial impact such enthusiasts can have on the world at large

Booklist

Lovers of the outdoors, especially gardeners, will find much to enjoy in Japanese journalist Abe’s first English-language book, which won the Nihon Essayist Club Award in 2016. The author engagingly chronicles the travels and plant-collecting adventures of Collingwood Ingram… Charming

Kirkus Review

Like the sakura itself, Ms. Abe’s book is a quiet pleasure

Gerard Helferich, Wall Street Journal

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