The first ever Full Bloom Festival celebrated Traditional Orchards in the Springtime; their beauty and their value as a wildlife habitat. Spring is the perfect time to highlight the connection between the orchard and the wildlife within. Birds are nesting, bees and other invertebrates are pollinating – everything is coming to life after a long winter. Our festival began in Cornwall on the 25th April and moved north, ending in Cumbria two weeks later. Our inspiration for a festival that followed the flow of blossom up the country came from Common Ground. The festival is part of the Conserving and Restoring Traditional Orchards in England project - jointly funded by the National Trust and Natural England's Countdown 2010 fund.
As part of the Full Bloom Festival we created a collaborative poem to celebrate our orchard heritage and the unfurling of blossom across the country. Renga is a 1000 year old form of shared writing, with many people contributing short verses inspired by orchards through the seasons. We began at our festival opening event in Cotehele, Cornwall, where the first 12 verses were written in the orchard. The poem then went online, with over 500 verses offered from across the country and many international offerings too. Our Master Poets picked one verse each day for 12 days. Finally, the Renga reached Acorn Bank in Cumbia - our closing event for the festival. Once again, 12 verses were written in the orchard and the first ever Full Bloom Renga was complete! You can download a copy of the poem below, or listen to the poem being recited by people of all ages in the orchard at Acorn Bank.
The Full Bloom Renga project was created by Anne-Marie Culhane with Jo Salter. Full Bloom Renga score created by Anne-Marie Culhane, Alec Finlay and Paul Conneally. We are grateful for additional funding for our Full Bloom Renga from Tust New Art - a partnership between the National Trust and the Arts Council England to connect more people to National Trust places through contemporary art and craft. Full Bloom Renga recording by Eka Morgan.
Image: Bill Bradshaw