Painting by Collingwood Ingram
When Collingwood visited the aged Mr Funatsu on his trip to Japan in 1926, he was shown some old paintings of Japanese cherries. One painting in particular sparked his interest and he wrote in his journal later in the day ......
"Mr Funatsu brought me out one or two old pictures of cherries amongst which was one by his great grandfather probably painted about 120 years ago. (Mr F. is an old man). This kakemono depicted very accurately, if somewhat crudely, the large-flowered single cherry I found at the Freeman’s which I have named Tai Haku. Apparently its correct name is Akatsuki – meaning “daybreak” or “dawn”. The fine shape of the flowers and its pure whiteness contrasting with the pale golden bronze young foliage are clearly depicted. The diameter of the flowers – about 6cm if my memory does not fail – is also about right in the painting.
Mr Funatsu said he had long been searching in vain for this Akatsuki variety! It is a curious thing that it should be found again in a remote Sussex garden."
Mrs Freeman's garden was in Winchelsea. Her tree was in decline, but Collingwood had taken scion wood for a graft and from this originated the many thousands of Tai Haku plants which have since been planted around the world.
The story of Tai Haku and its remarkable survival still captures
the imagination of gardeners and garden historians.
The story is told in full in a new book published in March 2016