Beautiful displays of cherry blossom are marking the start of spring.

In front of the Swiss Cottage sports centre and library in Camden, cherry trees are flowering on the central walkway, drawing crowds of visitors.

The cherry blossom, known as 'sakura' in Japan, symbolises renewal, optimism and rebirth.

Celebrated worldwide, the Japanese practise 'Hanami', holding parties beneath the flowering trees.

The word 'sakura' derives from 'saku', to bloom, to smile, or to laugh.

Cherry blossom is Japan's national flower and well represented in the country's culture, from traditional kimonos to modern fashion trends.

According to legend, visiting these trees promises prosperity, longevity and happiness.

However, the spectacle does not last long. The petals start to fall after just two weeks.

One Swiss Cottage visitor, Kate Ainscow, said: "The explosion of pink flowers start to fall after only two weeks and this gives rise to another meaning - that life is precious and must be valued.

"Sakura is about the tragedy and beauty in life and death."

The advice is to see this "sweet but short" display as soon as possible.