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Press release

National Trust's blossom campaign blooms with a feast for the senses on World Poetry Day

Large tree with delicate pink blossoms in front of a brick stately home and blue sky
Yoshino Cherry blossom at Benthall Hall in Shropshire | © National Trust Images, Tom Longmore

Today (Thursday 21 March), 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.

“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.”

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.

Simon continued: “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.”

Live performances of the Blossomise EP as well as poetry readings by Simon Armitage will take place during the National Trust’s Blossom Week, from the 20th – 28th April 2024, in major cities across the country.

Annie Reilly, Head of the National Trust’s 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.”

As for how to enjoy more sights and smells of this year’s blossom season, earlier this month the charity announced that blossom was blooming four weeks earlier than normal in pockets of the UK.

It 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, Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Coleton Fishacre in Devon, and is now 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.”

Andy Jasper, Head of Gardens and Parklands at the National Trust added: “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.”

As the year progresses further towards spring months, signs of new life are also beginning to appear in those areas of the UK that did not report February blooms, ensuring that Brits can join in this year’s festivities no matter where they are.

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.

“Although the blossom is at the mercy of unpredictable spring weather, we are hopeful for a fantastic seasonal spectacle. With the apples and pears in our orchard yet to flower, there is a lot of blossom still to come.”

Andy continued: “While mother nature works to her own timescale, now is the perfect time for us to sit back and really take in the signs of new life popping up in the landscape, whether that is at National Trust places, public parks in cities or even our own backyards, and indulge in the joy of nature waking up from its slumber, with the people around us.”

As in previous years, the charity is encouraging people to share snapshots of their blossom discoveries on social media, using the hashtag #BlossomWatch.

To further connect Britons to blossom, the conservation charity will also host over 120 events at its places between March and May, ranging from Tai Chi in the orchard at Snowshill Manor & Gardens in Gloucestershire to blossom bathing in hammocks at Cherryburn in Northumberland.

There will also be various events happening in major cities across England, including London, Birmingham and Manchester.

The Trust’s Blossom campaign is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, with the Manchester events supported by CJ Wildlife.

Blossomise – the book is published by Faber and on sale from today, with the album available to order and download on Bandcamp or across streaming services.

Tickets for the live performances by LYR are now on sale, available through the National Trust website and starting from £5.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and his two LYR band members standing in front of a pinkish wall as the sun shines on them.

Blossomise events with Simon Armitage and LYR 

Discover blossom through music, poetry and immersive experiences. Attend a performance with the band LYR or join Simon for an intimate poetry reading this Blossom Week, 20–28 April 2024.

An aerial shot of the band LYR walking through a blossom-filled garden with some students

Discover poems from Simon Armitage's book, Blossomise 

Get into the spirit of the blossom season with a selection of poems from Poet Laureate Simon Armitage's new book, Blossomise, alongside illustrations from the book by celebrated artist Angela Harding.


How we’re bringing blossom back 

Hedgerows and orchards provide food for insects, homes for wildlife and a spectacle of spring blossom for humans. However, they are disappearing from UK landscapes. Find out more about what we're doing to bring blossoming trees and hedgerows back.