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Simon Armitage welcomes spring and the National Trust's blossom campaign

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The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has written a poem that welcomes spring, as well as marking World Poetry Day. ‘Plum Tree Among the Skyscrapers’ conjures up a plum tree growing through a “cracked slab in a city square”, and is the first in a collection of poems inspired by blossom that have been commissioned by the National Trust. In his poem Armitage goes on to describe the little tree as a “a poor Cinderella / rootling about /in a potting compost / of burger boxes / and popped poppers.” The blossom collection, which will consist of poems and other creative works including music, will be brought together by Armitage and his band LYR in collaboration with communities and creatives across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Simon Armitage said: “The National Trust is one of the great British institutions, a guardian of our past, present and future. When I became poet laureate in 2019, I made the environment a cornerstone of my work and my activities, so to be working with the National Trust on a project that celebrates the annual renewal of the natural world was a perfect fit.

“For this first poem, I was particularly keen to examine how nature might flourish in our urban landscapes, and about the tenacity of trees to be able to adapt to the most unlikely places. There is both ecstasy and melancholy associated with blossom, in its coming and its going; blossom trees are powerful metaphors for our own existence, as well as important indicators of the health of the planet.”

Andy Jasper, head of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: “Simon’s poem is a wonderful reminder of the need to cherish the powerful connections we all have with the natural world. Whilst these rhythms of life appear to last for millennia, we know they are vulnerable, particularly in a changing climate. The National Trust’s blossom campaign is a celebration of the fleeting beauty of blossom and a celebration of spring not just in our wonderful gardens and parklands, but also throughout urban areas in every region and country of the UK.”

The trust’s Festival of Blossom will additionally take place at more than 100 locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, consisting of blossom-themed events and activities. The National Trust will also be planting several orchards at sites including Brockhampton in Herefordshire, Bateman’s in East Sussex, Arlington Court in Devon and Carrick-a-Rede in County Antrim, as well as new urban blossom gardens in Birmingham, Swindon, Manchester and Leeds.




by Simon Armitage


She’s travelled for years

through tangled forests

and formal gardens,

edged along hedgerows,

set up her stall

on tenanted farms

then moved on, restless,

empty handed sometimes,

sometimes with fruit

in her arms.

She’s hopscotched

through graveyards and parks,

settled down in allotments,

clung to a church roof

by a toe.

She’s pitched camp on verges

and hard shoulders,

stumbled on threadbare moors

above the tree-line

and slummed it on wasteland,

but dug in on steep hillsides

and rough ground.

She was Queen of the May

on a roundabout once

in a roundabout way.

She’s piggy-backed

across trading estates, hitched

in a mistle thrush beak,

drifted with thistledown.

She’s thumbed a lift into town.

Now here she is,

in a cracked slab

in a city square

in a square mile

mirrored by glass and steel,

dwarfed by money

and fancy talk.

Hand-me-down brush,

pre-loved broom,

to the paid-by-the-minute

suits and umbrellas

and lunchtime shoppers

she’s a poor Cinderella

rootling about

in a potting compost

of burger boxes

and popped poppers.

In that world,

orchard and orphan

are one and the same.

But she’s here to stay -

plum in the middle -

and today she’s fizzing

with light and colour,

outshining the smug sculptures

and blubbering fountains.

Scented and powdered

she’s staging

a one-tree show

with hi-viz blossoms

and lip-gloss petals;

she’ll season the pavements

and polished stones

with something like snow.



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Stephen Gospage

Wed 22nd Mar 2023 08:20

A strong, physical poem with some wonderful images ('she hopscothed', 'smug sculptures', 'blubbering fountains'). Conjures up the magical aspect of nature, like an unstoppable gift to an undeserving world.

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John F Keane

Tue 21st Mar 2023 17:19

'...and popped poppers' would have been a better ending place.

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