Flowering trees represented a source of spiritual renewal for Van Gogh; in 1883 he had written of the symbolism of the flowering tree, seeing the evidence of rebirth like the "man who finally produces something poignant as the blossom of a hard, difficult life, is a wonder, like the black hawthorn, or better still the gnarled old apple tree which at certain moments bears blossoms which are among the most delicate and virginal things under the sun."
In 1888 Van Gogh became inspired in southern France and began the most productive period of his painting career. He sought the brilliance and light of the sun which would obscure the detail, simplifying the subjects. It also would make the lines of composition clearer; which would suit his ambition to create the simple patterns that he appreciated in Japanese woodblocks. Arles, he said, was "the Japan of the South." Van Gogh found in the south that colors were more vivid. Pairs of complementary colors, such as "the red and green of the plants, the woven highlights of oranges and blue in the fence, even the pink clouds that enliven the turquoise sky" — create an intensity through their pairing.
Mancoff says of flowering trees and this work,
"In his flowering trees, Vincent attained a sense of spontaneity, freeing himself from the strict self-analytical approach he took in Paris. In Almond Tree in Blossom, Vincent used the light, broken strokes of impressionism and the dabs of colour of divisionism for a sparkling surface effect. The distinctive contours of the tree and its position in the foreground recall the formal qualities of Japanese prints."The southern region and the flowering trees seems to have awakened Van Gogh from his doldrums into a state of clear direction, hyper-activity and good cheer. He wrote, "I am up to my ears in work for the trees are in blossom and I want to paint a Provençal orchard of astonishing gaiety." While in the past a very active period would have drained him, this time he was invigorated.
To paint the flowering orchards, Van Gogh contended with the winds which were so strong that he drove pegs into the ground to which he fastened his easel. Even so, he found painting the orchards "too lovely" to miss.