Blossom campaign blooms with a feast for the senses

To mark World Poetry Day and following the first day of spring, the National Trust is officially launching its annual blossom campaign with the publication of a new book of blossom-inspired poetry by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and the release of a new EP by his band LYR, both called Blossomise, inviting people in the UK to go out and immerse themselves in this year’s spring spectacle with each of their senses.

Illustrated by famous printmaker Angela Harding, the book contains poems, haikus (short Japanese inspired poetry) and song lyrics, and is the culmination of an 18-month project with the conservation charity – expressing the fleeting joy of blossom as a key moment within nature’s calendar.

Simon Armitage said, “Nature writing goes right back to the very origins of poetry. I wanted the poems to key in to that tradition, and to make themselves available as memorable verse and song lyrics. Blossom is such a strong emblem of spring, but also a very delicate indicator of unstable climate conditions. I’ve tried to find that balance both within and across the poems. Increasingly, we have seen that poetry is resonating with people from across the generations and from many different walks of life, not least when it shades into musical territory and performance. As such, this feels like the right project at the right time, designed to amplify the joy of blossom, encourage people all over the country to feel inspired by nature’s resilience, and to welcome the coming of spring.”

Of the book’s 21 poems and haikus, five were adapted into the songs making up the Blossomise EP, which LYR worked on with community choirs and budding student filmmakers.

Annie Reilly, Head of the National Trust’s (NT) Blossom Programme said, “Finding new and exciting ways to connect people with the beauty of the seasons has always been at the heart of our Blossom programme, and we could not be more excited for them to be inspired to join us on this journey into the wonder of blossom through the incredible art Simon and LYR have created.

“As our hanami-inspired celebration blooms again for a fifth year, we hope it will encourage people to dive head-first into this annual feel-good spectacle using all of their senses, whether that is by reading poetry under the falling petals of a cherry tree, listening to the music in the middle of an orchard, smelling spring’s perfume in the gardens, attending a live performance, or simply taking in the sea of pink and white petals, wherever they are.”

Earlier this month the NT announced that blossom was blooming four weeks earlier than normal in pockets of the UK, but has since found that although nature is still ahead in some of these areas, cooler temperatures and continued regular rainfall has allowed nature to slow down and catch up with itself at many other places, such as Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent.

Pamela Smith, National Gardens consultant for the NT said, “This winter, we encountered unseasonably warm temperatures, and there is no denying that effects of climate change are getting more noticeable year on year. However, thanks to the more recent cold snaps, this rapid progress has slowed down somewhat, and in some places the blooming of blossom has almost fallen back into a familiar rhythm.”

Saffron Prentis, Assistant Head Gardener at Sissinghurst said: “Despite what was a very mild, wet winter on the whole, things here do not feel particularly early and are in fact in line with what we would expect. Our magnolias are now in flower, and in other areas of the garden quince and Mount Fuji cherries that are bursting into bloom.”

Click here for more information about the best places to see blossom

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