Early spring has slowed, National Trust says as it launches blossom campaign

An annual campaign urging people to celebrate blossom has been launched with help of poet laureate Simon Armitage.

Blossom in the garden at Chirk Castle, near Wrexham
Blossom in the garden at Chirk Castle, near Wrexham

Cooler temperatures and rain have tempered the early spring in much of the country, the National Trust said as it launched its annual blossom campaign.

This year’s campaign is being launched on world poetry day with the help of poet laureate Simon Armitage and his band LYR, with a new book of blossom-inspired poetry and EP, both called Blossomise.

The annual campaign by the conservation charity encourages people to enjoy the spectacle of spring blossom, in the spirit of the Japanese Hanami festival.

Simon Armitage, poet laureate
Simon Armitage, poet laureate (Paul Harris)

Earlier in the month, the National Trust said unseasonably mild weather had prompted flowering trees and blossom to emerge up to four weeks earlier, in what it described as a sign of the “rapidly changing climate”.

The advanced early spring is continuing in parts of the south west and Northern Ireland, but cooler temperatures and continuing rain are balancing out the season’s arrival in other areas of the country, according to the Trust.

In places the charity looks after, including Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent, Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Coleton Fishacre in Devon, the conditions have meant that spring is only running a few days ahead, if at all.

Pamela Smith, national gardens consultant for the National Trust, 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.”

But where early blooms have emerged, they have so far been spared from frosts, raising hopes the country could be in for a prolonged and bountiful season, the Trust said.

Andy Jasper, head of gardens and parklands at the National Trust said: “Thankfully, though the weather turned colder after we saw those early blooms, we have not experienced the kind of frosts that could have wrought havoc causing petals to be damaged and to drop early, which means that if you are lucky enough to live in one of these pockets of early spring, you’ll have even longer to enjoy this year’s spectacle.”

For this year’s blossom campaign, the National Trust has collaborated with Mr Armitage on the project which he said aimed to “amplify the joy of blossom” and help people feel inspired by nature’s resilience.

His book contains poems, haikus and song lyrics celebrating blossom, and five of the pieces of writing were adapted into songs for the EP.

Live performances and poetry readings will take place during the Trust’s “blossom week” from April 20-28.

Yoshino Cherry blossom at Benthall Hall in Shropshire
Yoshino Cherry blossom at Benthall Hall in Shropshire

Mr 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.

“At the same time, I wanted them to exist in the here and now, using everyday language and dealing with contemporary issues, not least climate change.

“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.”