Following the Flowers in Seoul in Spring
One of the things I love about living in South Korea is that there is a true spring—not the straight from frigid winter to summer with a brief fall and back again we’re used to in the northeast in the States.
The first sign of spring in Seoul is the cherry blossoms (though it could be argued that it’s the drop in air quality—this spring brought the worst air quality we’ve experienced in Seoul to date). Last year, the cherry blossoms bloomed the first week of April. This year, they bloomed as early as the beginning of March and through to April. We have plenty of posts on those, so feel free to peruse them below:
With the cherry blossoms bloom plum blossoms (my preference), little white buds, and yellow star-shaped forsythia. And as the cherry blossom petals make their way to the ground, the azaleas pop up in vibrant pinks, reds, purples, and white. With them come the lilacs, though they don’t stick around as long. You’ll realize they’ve arrived when you smell their scent wafting. Did you know that there are pink lilacs? Seoul has all of them—purple, white, and pink. The tulips also arrive at this time in all sorts of shades.
At the end of April and into the start of May, you’ll think you smell jasmine but have no idea where it’s coming from. Overnight, the trees will flower and you’ll learn that they are 이팝나무 or chionanthus retusus, the fringetree, a cousin of jasmine in the oleaceae or olive tree family. The fragrant white flowers stick around for several weeks before the trees turn green again.
In between all these are other blooms that I haven’t yet learned the names of. Trees with different white blooms, deep reddish purple bulbs, more pink and yellow and orange flowers. The yellow flower fields along the Hangang (Han River) that made me gasp and that we’ve frolicked through for two springs now.
If you pay attention, you can find neon red poppies, red clovers, and blue, purple, and other wildflowers.
Then come the roses.
They’ve started to bloom within the past week, maybe even the past few days. I’ve been told that these stick around a while though. And so, these are the flowers that transition us to summer.
When there are even more to follow.
where to follow the flowers
Along the water. Every park along the Hangang has wide fields and small gardens of flowers. The first time we ever saw the cherry blossoms was along a stream (the Yangjaecheon). The most popular stream is the Cheonggyecheon, but there’s a stream in most pockets of Seoul.
Really though, the quietest way (and therefore the best, in my opinion) to follow the flowers is to get lost in small neighborhoods. You could spend a whole morning or afternoon in this way and never stop finding something new.