The National Trust is encouraging people to celebrate the fleeting seasonal spectacle of blossom in its first ever “Blossom Week”, a seven-day celebration of all things blossom, building on the success of the charity’s #BlossomWatch day, a previous highlight in its annual campaign.
Blossom Week is inspired by the Japanese tradition of 'Hanami', the popular custom where people of all ages get together to enjoy the transient beauty of cherry blossom.
Blossom Week has been designed as a natural peak to the campaign when the majority of the country will have some sort of blossom in bloom – from blackthorn and cherry, to apple and pear. The charity hopes to encourage people across the UK to get outside to enjoy the fleeting beauty of this spring phenomenon either in their own gardens or local parks, or by exploring the programme of blossom inspired events at National Trust places, made possible thanks to funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Andy Jasper, Head of Gardens and Parklands at the National Trust said: “We are at the epicentre of a truly magnificent show of blossom. Thanks to the slightly delayed start to the season, brought on by a particularly dry February and late cold snaps, we now get to enjoy nature’s dazzling play of colours for even longer, particularly because the weather has remained cooler than we might have expected and has given nature the space to do what it does best.
“Now more than ever there is so much to explore and discover in gardens and parks all over the country, and there has never been a better time to get outside and take a moment to observe nature waking up in front of our very eyes.”
Annie Reilly, the National Trust’s Blossom Programme Manager said: “Blossom Week is a chance, at the peak of the blossom season as the days grow longer and winter fades, for us all to celebrate the simple power of blossom as it brings joy, beauty and bounce to us all.
“We’re encouraging everyone, wherever they are, to take part. You can share a photo, have a picnic, visit a park, or just pause to breathe under a tree. Blossom is for everyone, and Blossom Week is about everyone enjoying nature’s biggest show in whatever way they want.”
To mark the start of this year’s Blossom Week, the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, whose blossom-themed collaboration with the National Trust was announced last month, has penned a new haiku – a short form of poetry originally from Japan - inspired by the long form poem ‘Plum Tree Among The Skyscrapers’ which he released in March.
Simon said: “Haiku is a Japanese poetic form and Japan is the spiritual home of blossom festivities, so it felt like the obvious form. The traditional haiku often references some aspect of the environment, and tends to be enigmatic rather than literal in its meaning. I was keen to mention blossom trees in an urban setting, where so many people live and where nature often finds itself crowded out.
“In the poem there’s a kind of reverse logic taking place, a suggestion that we need to relearn ideas about the natural world that we have forgotten or become distanced from. The idea that the blossom is a kind of alphabet and that the trees are making statements is meant as an encouragement and a warning; we need to listen to what nature is saying. The last line gives nature the last word - as if a law has been laid down.”
During the week, the poet and his band LYR will visit various National Trust places and city sites the Trust is partnering with, including Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, the London Blossom Garden in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Burley Park in Leeds, Gibside and Exhibition Park in Newcastle to draw inspiration from the festival activities taking place and find out what blossom means to different people.
Blossom themed events and activities will be happening at over 70 National Trust properties during the week including in the South West: a bioblitz at Cotehele in Cornwall, blossom bathing at Kingston Lacy in Dorset, blossom trail at Trengwainton in Cornwall, blossom crafts at Avebury in Wiltshire and blossom garden walks with the gardener at Buckland Abbey, helping visitors are encouraged to explore and enjoy blossom and reconnect with nature’s beauty right on their doorstep.
The National Trust has been awarded over £5.4 million in funds through Postcode Earth Trust, thanks to People’s Postcode Lottery players.
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at the People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Blossom Week presents an exciting opportunity for communities to connect and enjoy the beauty of nature's blossoms.
“To date, our players have raised over £5.4 million, helping to contribute towards the invaluable work of National Trust. This includes planting over 500 blossom trees on the iconic number 11 bus route in Birmingham, among many other blossom projects run through the National Trust’s blossom programme, showcasing how collective efforts make a positive lasting impact on the world around us.”
To encourage the public to visit their local parks and gardens and share their best blossom moments, the conservation charity is further hosting a blossom picture competition where social media users can share their favourite nature shots using the hashtag #BlossomWatchComp for a chance to win a year’s worth of holidays with the National Trust. The competition opened on the 20th March and will run until the 12th May.