Festival of Blossom
'The cherries’ only fault / the crowds that gather / when they bloom'*
The sight of blossom in Spring has inspired poets throughout the centuries and celebrating the season is an important benchmark in Japan's calendar. Now the National Trust are building on the success of their #BlossomWatch campaign to bring that joy and inspiration into ours. Launching today with a new poem from Simon Armitage there's a whole feast of opportunities to get involved and be inspired - will you plant a tree, write a poem, or simply look up and smell the blooms?
*Cherry blossom poem by 12th century poet, Saigyo Hoshi. A kinder view of the 'hanamai' (blossom viewing) parties is described in this verse by Kobayashi Issa, late 18th /early 19th century Haiku master of Japan: 'Under the cherry blossoms / strangers are not / really strangers.'
Written by... Matilda Cornwall-Jones, Blossom Project Manager, National Trust
Most people have a connection to blossom trees; whether it’s an early memory, a particularly stunning tree, or a memorable experience beneath the blooms; blossom is universal, it connects with us all.
I grew up in London and blossom trees were valuable in providing touchpoints with nature. We knew that when blossom trees began to bloom, we could expect warmer weather and longer days. When the blossom fell and summer came, as a child I loved jumping in the waves of blossom confetti that covered the floor, and then when the trees fruited and fell, I have memories of jumping along the pavement to find clear parts of the road so I didn’t get covered in fruit juices. I’m sure anyone reading this has their own memories of blossom, and that simple, strong connection, is at the heart of our Blossom project.
This year the National Trust will run a bigger Blossom programme than ever. It seeks to inspire everyone, everywhere to celebrate the blossom season, and embed it as a key event in the annual cultural calendar. Providing an annual moment to connect with the beauty and meaning of blossom. We have lots of exciting projects as part of this including further insights into Blossom through research, a tree planting programme, and an urban partnership scheme. Inspired by Hanami, the ancient Japanese tradition of viewing and celebrating blossom as the first sign of spring, we’ll also once again be encouraging nature lovers to watch for blossoming buds and share them online using #BlossomWatch.
National Trust properties will come alive during the Festival of Blossom, with 100 places taking part this year, including:
- Quarry Bank are launching a Blossom Bus to increase access
- Kingston Lacy are inviting people to listen to Blossom-inspired playlists
- Cotehele are partnering with community orchards to create a Blossom-trail along a local railway
- Shugborough are creating new Blossom art with local artists
- Cliveden are using Blossom to reach out to their local communities to support those in need
- Dyffryn are helping people learn through Blossom with photography workshops
Look out for a Blossom hotspot trail if you are visiting Manchester in April. They have partnered with local people and organisations to plot 30 spots across the city where you can see and enjoy blossom, including the Castlefield Viaduct.
‘Plum Tree Among The Skyscrapers’
For World Poetry Day, we’re unveiling the first in a series of blossom inspired works penned by Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, telling a story of perseverance, renewal, and hope. The series will be written over the next two years, touching on themes including folklore, seasonal rhythms, nature’s beauty, and the loss and restoration of blossom. Through this collaboration, Simon will be aiming to express the beauty and wonder of nature, helping people to connect with blossom, while also addressing the ever-growing challenges nature is facing.
Simon Armitage said: "The National Trust is one of the great British institutions, a guardian of our past, present and future. When I became Poet Laureate in 2019, I made the environment a cornerstone of my work and my activities, so to be working with the National Trust on a project that celebrates the annual renewal of the natural world was a perfect fit.”
Find out more
Everyone can get involved by sharing your images of blossom on social media using #BlossomWatch, visiting one of the Festival of Blossom properties, or by engaging with Simon’s work on Blossom.
- Listen to Simon reading his poem ‘Plum’ (transcript available if you use the 'listen now' button)
- Read Simon's poem, printed in full on the Guardian
- Find the best blossom near you
- How to spot different types of blossom
- Community blossom - new blossom circles for cities
- Lost blossom - how the Trust is bringing blossom back
- World Poetry Day
- What's the catch? - a poem written for Heritage Open Days in 2021