Though the cherry blossom petals were expected, the number of camellia, or tsubaki, trees that were in the woods which surround the lake was not. During winter I didn't realise that the wood was full of tsubaki as they hadn't flowered yet. Today, however, many were in full bloom, and further to that, many had dropped some of their flowers. Tsubaki are one of the few flowers that brighten winter. In fact, they are meant to herald its end, and the picture below probably supports that notion. I don't think that they originally grew wild in the area, though quick research tells me that they did grow wild in the past so, who knows? Either way, they are part of the forest aspect of the park now. Traditionally, camellias are also kept in shrine gardens, and as the park has a small haka (grave area), maybe that is why they grow there.
Note that I said the trees had dropped their flowers and not their petals. The camellia has many positive and negative cultural associations, apparently, but the one that I know is that their blossoms can symbolise death. Usually they have short stems, and the whole flower drops from these to the ground when it is ready. Other plants lose their blossoms petal by petal, but the tsubaki, like those in the pictures above and below, can fall intact. The reading I have done also says that in times past, as the stems were too short, and as the flowers had fallen to and touched the ground, tsubaki could not be displayed in vases or the like. The reasons for this were the obvious practical difficulties, and that something which had been intact with the ground in that way was not suitable for display. I guess this resonates with the notion that one would not usually want to exhume or revisit a body once it had had its time on earth.
The sakura, or cherry blossoms, indicate a transient beauty. That is their role in Japanese flower-lore, I think, and a reason why their quick appearance and disappearance is celebrated with such ribaldry and joy. Therefore, when I saw the tsubaki fallen on sakura petals it seemed particularly poignant (see below). One, the passing of beauty, the other, the passing of life - but both the nurturers of further beauty and life as they are bound to rot and fade and sink into the earth from whence they came and from which they will spring again.