Spring blossom images unite UK nature lovers amid corona crisis

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Some have shared beautiful images of blossoms that are brightening back gardens while others have been spotting the delicate, colourful blooms as they take their permitted daily exercise. Even people confined indoors have contributed by peeking out of windows to glimpse and record the fleeting spring blossom.

They are part of the hundreds of thousands of people, old and young, who have joined in with the National Trust’s #BlossomWatch. They have done so either by sending in pictures of blossom or taking a look at what others have contributed.

The idea of the project, launched two weeks ago, was to emulate hanami, the Japanese custom of relishing the fleeting sight and scent of blossom. The conservation charity suggested 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, then share their images on social media using the hashtag #BlossomWatch.

Next year the trust intends to develop the project further and produce a map to track the blossom across the UK, which would have a scientific as well as joyful purpose.

But for this season, the sight of transient blooms – and the promise of fruit they bring – is providing moments of peace at this most difficult of times.

Blossom in Bristol photographed by Becky Chapman.

Becky Chapman, executive director of a Bristol organisation promoting diversity in the arts, shared images of the tiny cherry tree in her back garden coming into “full gorgeousness”.

She said: “Suddenly, on these days and at this time, my little cherry seems to capture all that is beautiful and all that is fragile in our world. I’m indulging in some childlike wonder and I inwardly gasp at each individual flower, a marvel. My crab apple is now emerging – the blooms are deep, straggly, floppy pink. Less pizazz than the cherry, a little more casually dazzling.”

Chapman said lockdown seemed to have slowed time: “I’ve time to stand and stare, time to delight in the grace, activity, and sheer brilliance of nature; and time to feel a little human connection through the natural world, even in isolation.”

Clare Topping, from Daventry in Northants, energy and sustainability manager at Northampton general hospital NHS trust, agreed, saying: “Taking part in BlossomWatch is a lovely thing when there is so much bad news out there and when people can’t necessarily get to their favourite places anymore.

“I think that seeing bits of nature reminds you of the important things in life, and that nature puts on the same show for us if we choose to look no matter where we are.

“I usually walk past them when I go to my weekly yoga class, and see them coming out as a sign of spring, but with all classes cancelled I have to make sure I walk past them in my allowed exercise.”

Blossom in south London photographed by a participant named Hannah

Hannah, from Clapham, who works in the heritage industry, said: “Being able to be in nature, and see nature, is essential for the mental health and wellbeing of everyone. Lockdown has made me appreciate nature even more. It is so restorative and nature goes on and reminds us all we are just part of one big ecosystem – not above it.”

The National Trust has been delighted at the reaction. By the two-week mark there had been more than 4m views on social media of the images.

Professionals have also contributed, including Rosie Fyles, head gardener at Ham House in south-west London. Fyles has been recording the show provided by the fruit trees that cover three of the walls in the 17th century walled garden.

Fyles said: “This year the blossom has bloomed in a pleasingly regular sequence – the apricot in a very sheltered spot first, followed by peaches, cherry, then plum. “I think it’s wonderful that so many people are really noticing and valuing blossom.

“It’s been a really good year for blossom so far. We need to cling on to the positive and the fruitful.”

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