In Brief

What is #BlossomWatch?

Charity launches campaign to lift Britons’ spirits by emulating Japan’s hanami custom

The National Trust is urging locked-down Britons to reconnect with nature by taking part in a new springtime tradition based on a Japanese custom.

The conservation charity is encouraging anyone who sees a tree in bloom - whether from their home or during the once daily trip out to exercise permitted under coronavirus containment restrictions -  to share the experience on social media using #BlossomWatch.

So what is the #BlossomWatch campaign?

The National Trust wants to encourage people of all ages to “take a moment to pause, actively notice and enjoy the fleeting beauty of blossom”, and to “share our blossom images on social media, using #BlossomWatch, for those who can’t see it for themselves”, says Country Living magazine.

Andy Beer, a nature expert at the charity, 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.”

People nationwide can “share the joy” by posting pictures online of the blossom that they spot, says Beer. 

“With the southwest 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,” he added.

The National Trust is also asking #BlossomWatch participants to tag their location, so that the charity can launch a blossom map next year.

The #BlossomWatch initiative is part of the National Trust’s “Everyone Needs Nature” campaign to help people become more connected with the outdoors.

Research commissioned by the organisation has found that only a small proportion of Britons – just 7% of children and 6% of adults – often celebrate key events in nature’s calendar such as the first day of spring, the solstice or harvest.

Where does the blossom-spotting idea originate?

The National Trust’s new initiative is inspired by hanami, “the Japanese custom of relishing the fleeting sight and scent of blossom”, says The Guardian.

A big event in the Japanese calendar, hanami celebrates the arrival of spring and springtime blossom, and centres around flowering cherry trees, or sakura, which reach peak blossom in late March and early April.

“Hanami can be just a stroll in the park, but it traditionally also involves a picnic party under the blooming trees,” says Japan-guide.com. “Hanami parties have been held in Japan for many centuries, and today are held in public and private gardens and parks across the country.”

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