A scent of Spring and things to come

Walking home through the forest last night I was struck by a faint floral scent in the air. Not surprising perhaps as yesterday was the warmest day of the year so far at St George’s Farm with the bright and warming sunshine and the daytime temperature reaching 16 degrees celsius.  Wild daffodils and primroses have been in bloom since the beginning of the month.  Blackthorn has been in flower here for a few days and is now at its best, damson blossom has just begun to emerge and the apple trees will not be far behind.

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To take advantage of this floral display, the first free public event in our annual calendar of activities will be a Blossom Walk on Sunday 1 May.  There are still places if you would like to join us.   We will be meeting outside the Hop Pole Pub at 2.30 and leading a gentle walk down Tanners Hill into the forest towards Ruskin Land taking in orchards old and new, with the cherry trees in full bloom and the beginnings of the apple blossom.  Tea and cake will be available and we are delighted that Susan Limbrey, Chair of the Kidderminster Beekeepers Association and member of the Wyre Forest Study Group, has agreed to give an informal talk on honey bees and other pollinating insects.  It should be a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Spring.

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The blossom season is enthusiastically celebrated in many parts of the world.   Washington DC’s national cherry blossom festival is due to take place this coming weekend.   ‘Bloom watch 2016’ predicted the peak bloom date there as 4 April when 70% of the blossoms on the Yoshino cherries surrounding the tidal basin were open.   In Japan, ‘Hanami’ – cherry blossom viewing – is a major national event providing the focus for parties and picnics. The end of the cherry blossom season in Kyoto was being reported this week in the Japanese media.  A ‘Martenitsa’, red and white woven thread typically worn as bracelets from early March, are tied to blossoming trees in Bulgaria later in the month to mark the arrival of Spring.  Variants of this ancient, pagan tradition are found throughout the Balkan Peninsula.

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The Blossom Walk here, though perhaps not as grand as elsewhere, will be one of a number of seasonal public events we are organising here at Ruskin Land. Building on the achievements of the Wyre Community Land Trust,  these events are part of our plan to introduce people to Ruskin Land and to make the place more widely known. We will also be hosting a summer picnic in the orchards, weather permitting, on 24 July, and organising  a Big Draw event with an Apple Day theme between 26 and 30 October.   The Big Draw is an international initiative supported by Ruskin’s Guild of St George and others to encourage people ‘to use the universal language of drawing as a tool for learning, expression and invention.’

As well as these public events, we will be running courses over the year to give people the opportunity to learn crafts such as rag rugging, basket making and spinning. A workshop on ‘Rugging and Knitting with Rags: introducing ways to ‎upcycle  your old clothes’ will take place on 18th June.  This will be followed by ‘Spinning: preparing and spinning fleece on a wheel’, including an introduction to peg loom weaving and needle felting on 16th July.  To book a place and to find out more about the programme of craft courses and other events please email:  info@wyreclt.org.uk

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Study of Apple Blossom by T.M.Rooke (1871) from the Ruskin Collection, Sheffield