National Trust launches its annual blossom campaign and expects “Mexican wave of colour”


National Trust launches its annual blossom campaign and expects “Mexican wave of colour”
National Trust launches its annual blossom campaign and expects “Mexican wave of colour”. Image: Cherry garden at Greys Court. Image credit: National Trust/Hugh Mothersole

The National Trust has launched its annual blossom campaign, which aims to bring the beauty of blossom to more people and to celebrate the start of spring.

However, due to repeated cold snaps in recent weeks and the driest February in thirty years1, Britons may need to wait a little longer than usual to be able to enjoy nature’s most beautiful displays, as cold temperatures, wind and snow lead to difficult conditions for flowering trees and hedgerows across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Fortunately, the British public should not have to wait long for nature to give its great show of blossom, as a milder and wetter April should counteract the past dryness, and the snow is unlikely to have any effects on the beauty of blossom once the trees are in full flower.

The national forecast

Andy Jasper, Head of Gardens and Parklands at the National Trust, said: “A number of factors can influence the timing of the emergence of blossom, the temperature being the principal one. While we had a mild winter overall, the recent cold snaps have affected how quickly nature progresses, and we can see the effects of this across many of our gardens with blooms delayed.

“Luckily, snow doesn’t generally affect the blossom in the long run – it’s late frost that can really impact the display of blossom, fruiting and harvests – and the cold snap has happened before the buds have tried to bloom in most cases, so we are still in line for a truly incredible show where the delayed blossom will burst forth in waves across the country like an amazing Mexican floral wave – marking the reassuring moment that spring has arrived.

“I hope that when temperatures start rising again, the National Trust’s blossom campaign will play a part in encouraging everyone to take ten minutes to step outside and to really stop and look at the new life bustling all around us, as it greatly enriches all of our lives.”

National Trust launches its annual blossom campaign and expects “Mexican wave of colour”
Traditional orchard in the walled garden at Greys Court. Image credit: National Trust/Hugh Mothersole

What’s the story in Bucks, Ox and Berks and the South East?

Crispin Scott, Nature Conservation Advisor for London and the South East, said: “Spring frosts can damage, and even kill blossom, which means a loss of nectar, flowers and later, fruits, for wildlife including butterflies, moths, and bats that feed on early emerging insects. This is vital food at this time for a wide number of species that have survived winter. And as our weather becomes more unpredictable due to climate change, finding dinner is going to be increasingly challenging for wildlife. 

“Here in the South East, the recent cold weather wasn’t as severe as in other parts of the country, and it looks like blossom in our gardens and countryside has escaped pretty much unscathed so far. The cold snap probably put blossom on hold for a week or so, but I’ve already started to see beautiful arches of blackthorn blossom, which is a boon for early spring insects. We’re hoping that a burst of warm weather in April will lead to a spectacular display of blossom in our gardens and countryside, which will be great news for our visitors and our wildlife too.”

Sophie Thomas, Gardener, Stowe: “Here at Stowe, the blossom has just started breaking with our almonds in the courtyard and our cherry plum across the site. The apple blossom is still holding tight, looking forward to the warmer weather. I’m looking forward to being able to enhance our seasonality in the garden by planting some more fruit trees this year to provide nectar sources for wildlife.

“The cold weather probably ended our snowdrop display slightly early, but our blossom display hopefully won’t be too affected. It’s a great sign of new beginnings and provides a great boost to pollinating insects after the winter. We have seen pollinators in the garden already, so the cold weather doesn’t seem to have affected them too much.

“We’re really looking forward to showing visitors our brand new Blossom Map with the best route to see the blossom highlights. Plus, we’ve lots of talks, activities, gardener tours and games for blossom week (24 to 30 April). We’ll also be able to show visitors the very best places for that blossom selfie.”

As part of the blossom campaign, the National Trust is encouraging the public to explore and enjoy blossom and share spring impressions on social media with the hashtag #BlossomWatch. #Blossomwatch is part of a long-term campaign to return blossoming trees to our landscapes and create a UK equivalent of Japan’s ‘hanami’, the popular traditional custom where people of all generations get involved in enjoying the transient beauty of cherry blossom from March until May.

The conservation charity will also continue its work to bring blossom back to landscapes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by planting four million blossoming trees. For example, 3,000 flowering hedgerow plants such as hawthorn, apple, crab apple and guelder rose have been planted on the Bradenham estate and 4,000 on the Hughenden estate in Buckinghamshire. 

Plus, more than 21,000 trees have been planted on the Coleshill estate in Oxfordshire in the past year, and a further 6.5 hectares of woodland is due to be planted in the coming year to connect three existing woodlands. These tree plantings will help contribute to the charity’s commitment to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030 to help tackle both the climate and nature crises.

Throughout spring, the Trust’s Festival of Blossom will additionally take place at over 100 locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland with unique blossom-themed events and activities, including sessions with artists, picnics, games, and special blossom walks to encourage visitors to explore and enjoy blossom.

For more information about this year’s blossom campaign and the National Trust’s work around lost blossom, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom

1. Driest February in 30 years for England – Met Office

Trending news

Latest news

More from The Oxford Magazine