Celebrating the arrival of spring blossom

Cherry blossom growing at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire

This spring is likely to be the most anticipated ever. Studies show that a third of adults say they're more aware of the changing seasons now in comparison to the first lockdown.

To connect to nature, we’re inviting you to join in with Hanami – the ancient Japanese tradition of viewing and celebrating blossom – by taking part in our #BlossomWatch campaign.

We piloted #BlossomWatch in 2020 when the country had just entered lockdown. And, with thousands getting involved last year, we’re once again asking people to share the joy and hope blossom brings. The sight of blush-tinted blooms can help lift spirits and bring everyone together to celebrate nature.

Research suggests that time spent connecting with nature daily is highly important to human wellbeing, and further evidence also suggests that people can receive many of these benefits from online engagement. We’re asking people to turn social media pink, white and green with blossom over the coming weeks to mark one of nature’s greatest spectacles.

Findings in a recent YouGov poll we commissioned revealed that nearly half (47 per cent) of adults say they are likely to actively spend more time in nature than before the pandemic. 49 per cent of adults also said they have found this lockdown harder than the first, giving a heightened sense of anticipation for this coming spring.

" Blossom in all its guises can bring a particular sense of joy as we emerge from winter. Clocking these bursts of colour as they unfurl across our neighbourhoods as a signal of the start of spring is truly joyful."
- Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation and restoration ecology at the National Trust
Fruit tree in blossom in the walled garden at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire
Fruit tree in blossom in the walled garden at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire
Fruit tree in blossom in the walled garden at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire

The science behind spotting blossom

Building on previous studies into the links between nature and wellbeing, research carried out by Professor Miles Richardson at Derby University shows how a short time spent in nature can improve wellbeing. 

Nature connectedness and engaging with nature through simple activities, such as smelling wildflowers, were the main reasons for improved mental wellbeing.

Professor Richardson from Derby University said that ‘spending a few moments looking at and enjoying blossom can have a surprising impact on feelings of wellbeing.’

He continued: ‘Moments in nature can help people recover from the stresses and strains of the pandemic. When looking at how time, connection and noticing [nature] explain wellbeing, simply tuning into and having a close relationship with nature explained around 40 per cent of levels of wellbeing, whereas time in nature alone explained one per cent.  

‘There's a need for greater public understanding that a close connection with nature is a key component of a worthwhile life, a sustainable life – a good life.’

Spot blossom wherever you are More about blossom 2021
Apple blossom at Cotehele in Cornwall
Apple blossom at Cotehele in Cornwall
Apple blossom at Cotehele in Cornwall

The need for nature connection is greater than ever

We’ve called for a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic. Planners, policy makers and non-government organisations must use the opportunity of increased nature connection across the population, given its proven links to people’s health and wellbeing, as the nation starts to resume pre-pandemic habits and lifestyles.

According to a report by Vivid Economics we commissioned, 15 million people in Great Britain live in ‘grey’ urban neighbourhoods with poor access to quality green spaces. These 'grey deserts' show how ensuring more communities have access to green space has become even more important.

We’re aiming to do more to help redress the balance. Last month, we announced our aim to help turn more grey areas green with ambitions to plant dozens of blossom circles across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years.

" Local enjoyment of blossom will be even more powerful this spring because blossom is nature’s reminder that life and renewal are returning."
- Simon Toomer, national plant conservation specialist at the National Trust

Sharing the joy of spring on social media

Spring is a great time to get connected with nature as we emerge from a long winter, and blossom is one of the first signs that lighter and warmer months are on their way.

Simon Toomer says: 'There is fresh hope for people’s lives as we emerge from the worst impacts of the pandemic. So we urge everyone to get outdoors, safely enjoy the blossom where they live, and share their experiences with others.'

In 2020, our #BlossomWatch campaign recieved four million views in the first two weeks across social media. To share your experiences of connecting with nature this spring, simply take a photo of blossom where you are, and share it using #BlossomWatch on Twitter to spread the joy of the blossom season. You can join in with the Twitter conversation here. 

Our Twitter blossom map uses your tweets to track the spread of blossom across the country throughout spring.