After the success of #BlossomWatch in 2020, when thousands captured and shared images of trees in bloom across social media, the National Trust is inviting people to celebrate blossom season in Hampshire once again.
Emulating Hanami, the ancient Japanese tradition of viewing and celebrating blossom as the first sign of spring, the conservation charity is encouraging everyone to take a moment to pause, actively notice and enjoy the fleeting beauty of blossom.
Using #BlossomWatch the National Trust is asking people to share their blossom images on social media, with the hope that the joyful sight of blush-tinted blooms will lift spirits and enable everyone to celebrate nature together. You can find out more here:
Across Hampshire blossom trees can be seen on city streets, in gardens and in public parks as well as at places in National Trust care, such as Hinton Ampner, The Vyne and Mottisfont.
PICTURED TOP OF THE PAGE: Cherry blossom at The Vyne | National Trust Images, Virginia Langer
Mottisfont magnolia | National Trust Images, John Millar
For those inspired to plant a blossom tree of their own, the National Trust has also compiled a list of top five blossom trees suitable for home gardens, recommended by Senior and Head Gardeners at gardens in its care across the country. These include John Wood at Hinton Ampner and Jonny Norton at Mottisfont – two renowned Hampshire gardens.
Emma McNamara, National Trust Gardens and Parks Consultant for the South East and Northern Ireland: “Blossom is fleeting but so beautiful that you’ll find planting your own tree hugely rewarding. A blossom tree gives you two seasonal delights: bright, blowsy, or delicate flowers in the spring, and later, home-grown fruits. Most fruit trees are easy to maintain; you may need to take action against some pests and diseases, but these trees are resilient and long-lived. Bees will be delighted by the flowers and will help to pollinate, leading to autumn fruit.
“Blossom trees come in all sizes, and whatever sized outdoor space you have, there is a blossom tree that will suit. Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ is a very small Fuji cherry tree with zig-zagging branches and masses of flowers – perfect for growing in pots. As winter ends in early March, ‘Kojo-no-mai’ bursts into an abundance of blossom.”
Five trees to bring the joy of blossom to your garden…
National Trust, Simon Newman
Pyrus communis (pear cultivars)
We have a splendid Conference pear tree in our famous rose garden at Mottisfont which must be at least 70 years old. Its delicate pinkish-white blossom provides a feast for early solitary bumblebees and other insects, and in autumn the tree provides rich, juicy fruit.
The beauty of this specimen lies in its age – a reminder that it’s worth keeping fruit trees for as long as possible. The gnarled trunk and open twisted branches from years of pruning give it a magnificent shape. A beautiful tapestry of green and grey-blue lichen and moss cover the older branches, and the cracks in its weathered bark provide a home for many over-wintering insects.
It’s a haven for a diverse range of wildlife throughout the year. Planted beneath the tree is a beautiful old shrub moss rose, rosa ‘William Lobb’. Each year we loosely tie its new leggy stems into the lower branches of the pear – an additional fragrant magenta delight for
our summer visitors.
– Jonny Norton – Head Gardener, Mottisfont
National Trust Images Stephen Robson
Prunus ‘Kanzan’ (cherry ‘Kanzan’)
The Kanzan cherry is one of the showiest varieties we grow in the orchard at Hinton Ampner, displaying delicious double lilac-pink flowers in late April. When the petals start to fade and drop, they flutter across the lawns here like spring confetti.
Kanzan is a strong-growing, medium sized tree which is tolerant of a variety of soils, so it’s a good choice for many gardens. There’s another round of colour in autumn, when the leaves take on a fiery-red glow.
– John Wood – Head Gardener, Hinton Ampner
National Trust Images, Catherine Hayburn
Malus baccata var. mandshurica (Manchurian Siberian crab apple)
As the seasons pass, the pure white blossom of mid-April makes way for an abundance of cherry-like deep red apples that take centre stage in our autumnal and Christmas displays – they last into the new year. Requiring only basic tree husbandry with little or no pruning, this fully hardy tree, native to eastern Asia, is perfect for all garden lovers. It can also be used in orchards as a pollinator tree.
– Jamie Leslie, Senior Gardener, Ightham Mote, Kent
PICTURE ABOVE (Left) Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) | National Trust Images, Neil Cook; (RIGHT) Malus domestica ‘Discovery’ (apple ‘Discovery’) | National Trust_Kate Groome
Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) (Pictured above left)
I really look forward to this flowering in May – unusually, the deep pink blossoms erupt straight from the main stem and branches which gives added ‘wow’ factor. These are followed by pea-like fruits which are most obvious in late summer/early autumn. It’s a reliable performer and not a shy flowerer. It’s fairly easy to obtain and grow and can happily be pruned to shape. Plant it in a nice open space where it can be seen to full effect.
– Neil Cook, Head Gardener, Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire
Malus domestica ‘Discovery’ (apple ‘Discovery’) (Pictured above right)
This early dessert apple, a cross between ‘Worcester Pearmain’ and (possibly) ‘Beauty of Bath’, is as beautiful as it is delicious, producing pure white, cup-shaped blossoms from around the end of April.
Be mindful of the rootstock it is grown on as this will dictate its eventual size (good fruit growing nurseries can advise). Ideally, choose an open and relatively sunny site and be generous with your planting hole. Make sure there is plenty of room to accommodate a good helping of well-rotted manure in the base, adding more as a mulch on top. It’s extra work but giving it a ‘good breakfast’ like this will really pay off.
– Vicky Cody, Senior Gardener, Snowshill Manor and Garden, Gloucestershire
Hinton Ampner – cherry blossom | National Trust Images, Alison Marsh
Blossom in Hampshire
The National Trust looks after hundreds of heritage fruit trees and ornamental cherry trees at National Trust gardens in Hampshire. Some of these can be found in traditional orchard settings. Over 90% of Britain’s heritage orchards have been lost, but the National Trust now protects more than 25 in the South East alone. They provide a valuable lifeline for insects including pollinating bees and butterflies, and are an uplifting spectacle in spring, and again in autumn when they are bursting with fruit.
If any of the following places are local to you, you’ll find plenty of beautiful inspiration for #BlossomWatch:
Mottisfont – late March sees the flowering of a magnificent white magnolia, and in April creamy blossom in the little cherry orchard. In the kitchen garden young apple trees display pink and white flowers. The estate walk is littered with blackthorn and spindle blossom, and later, hawthorn.
Hinton Ampner – the orchard is full of Japanese cherry blossom; first, the pink double flowers of variety ‘Kanzan’, followed by the blowsy cream blooms of Mount Fuji, weighing branches down towards the ground. In the walled kitchen garden espaliered fruit trees bear tight clusters of candy-pink and white petals
The Vyne – heritage plum, pear and apple trees in the orchard reveal tiny cream and deep-pink flowers. In late spring, the path through the Wild Garden is flanked by little cherry trees that produce copious displays of pale pink blossom.
Words and images courtesy of the National Trust
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