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 particular in recent weeks and the driest February in thirty years, 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.
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, 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.”
As part of the blossom campaign, the National Trust will encourage the UK 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 ornamental cherries produce a spectacular display of colour and smell in the formal gardens at Anglesey Abbey during March and April. Last year, the garden team planted a further 24 blossom trees along Olympian Way to rejuvenate a relatively unused area of the garden. The peat-free variety that the team chose for this new avenue of blossom trees was Prunus ‘Accolade’, an ornamental cherry which will provide a pink, scented blossom for years to come. The heritage orchard, planted in 2018 with 16 heritage varieties of plum, apple, pear and gages will also come into blossom during April, surrounding an 80-year-old Bramley seedling apple tree.
Blackthorn is among the first of the plants at Houghton Mill to blossom in the spring. Enjoy picturesque views of the millpond and historic watermill framed by bursts of this white blackthorn blossom. Then as you continue your walk along Houghton Meadows, keep your eyes peeled for more colour, as early blooming wildflowers also start to make an appearance.
Peckover House & Garden
The garden at Peckover House is an oasis in the middle of Wisbech, where our earliest blossom can be found on the Cornelian cherry. The knarled specimen, which is over 100 years old produces an abundance of small vibrant yellow flowers that can help lift the spirits in early spring, before the leaves begin to shoot. Quince, apple trees and espalier pears also draw the eye at this time of year.
Blackthorn is one of the first shrubs in the countryside to burst into flower, with blossom appearing before its leaves in March. You can see these clouds of white in the hedgerows, as you explore the wider reserve at Wicken Fen, along with hawthorn, alder and buckthorn, all of which provide food for bees and early insects.
The orchard at Wimpole Estate contains more than 300 fruit trees and the blossom in spring can help our garden team predict the success of the apple harvest to come in autumn. The 56 varieties of apple trees can provide 4.5 tonnes of fruit for pressing, which produces around 6000 litres of juice a year. Beginning with apricot, plum and greengage, the blossom then appears on the apple and pear trees and is finally rounded off by the medlar and quince in late spring. Within the walled garden, espaliered fruit trees will also be in blossom and ornamental cherry trees with delicate pink flowers can be found across the Pleasure Grounds. There will also be twelve new cherry trees blossoming for the first time this year.
The countryside surrounding the hamlet of Flatford, which was made famous by artist John Constable, is a lovely mixture of woodland, hedgerow and pasture. It means that come the spring, the landscape is ribboned with native trees and shrubs exploding into life with blossom. The tiny white blossom of blackthorn makes the countryside look like its blanketed in snow at the start of spring. Then in May we see the arrival of hawthorn. Did you know that hawthorn is a pagan symbol of fertility and has ancient associations with May Day?
From the formality of the Italianate Garden with its spring flowers and beautiful white magnolias to the wider parkland where you’ll discover cherry blossom along Geraldine’s and Erskine’s Walk. You’ll also find a small selection of apple and pear trees blossoming in the historic orchard between April and early May, their exact peak of flowering will often depend on winter temperatures. The blossom on the hawthorn trees is also an important early food source for many insects.
Noted for its spectacular floral display within the garden of Melford Hall, is a Judas tree, which is also known as a love tree. These small trees with heart-shaped leaves have clusters of bright cerise pink blossom that open before or with the leaves and create a dazzling display of colour from late April, into May. As spring emerges, enjoy the new growth and colour of the season, which will also include the espaliered apple trees along the red brick walls that surround the garden.