A British conservation charity is urging people confined indoors or only allowed to roam outside briefly to begin a new tradition emulating hanami, the Japanese custom of relishing the fleeting sight and scent of blossom.
The National Trust is encouraging people to join its scheme to salve the spirit in this most difficult of springtimes. It suggests adults and children who can see a tree in bloom take a moment to pause, actively notice and enjoy the transient beauty of the blossom, and share their images on social media using the hashtag #BlossomWatch. Next year it intends to launch a blossom map to track the colours as they move across the country.
Andy Beer, a nature expert at the National Trust, said: “It’s really easy to take this moment in nature for granted. Celebrating blossom is a pivotal, seasonal moment that can often be all too fleeting and we want to do all we can to help people and families at home to enjoy and take stock of a special moment in the calendar.
“At a time when people are being asked not to travel, blossom trees can be seen on city streets, in gardens and in public parks. There are many spectacular orchards across the nation, including those owned by the National Trust, but the awesome spectacle of blossom is on display in the neighbourhoods of many lucky people.
“We’re asking them to take pictures of the blossom as it blooms and share the joy with others who can’t see blossom for themselves right now. It’s a moment many can enjoy by simply looking at trees in their garden, seeing it through windows, or on city streets when taking the permitted daily walk, cycle or run.
“With the south-west of the country typically a bit warmer than the north we are likely to see wave after wave of the different types of fruit blossom sweeping across the country over the next three months.”
David Bouch, the head gardener at Cotehele on the banks of the River Tamar, said he always looked forward to the blossom on the apple and cherry trees in the estate’s orchards.
“It’s a real highlight of the year,” he said. “The gardens are coming out of winter and are alive with the humming of bees.”
Bouch said sightseers used to board paddle steamers in Plymouth for a blossom-spotting trip up the Tamar. “It would be wonderful if we can get more people to once again look out for blossom.”
Hanami is a big event in the Japanese calendar, associated with celebrating the arrival of spring. It revolves around flowering cherry trees or sakura, which reach peak blossom in late March and early April.
The move follows the launch of the National Trust’s Noticing Nature report in February, which showed that for people to do more to protect nature, they need to have a closer everyday connection to it. In a study carried out with the University of Derby, it found that only 6% of adults and 7% of children celebrate natural events such as the first day of spring or harvest.
The National Trust would like people to share and tag their images via @nationaltrust on Instagram and Twitter using #BlossomWatch and also inserting the name of the place where they live.