‘Project Blossom’ starts to take root around UK

Newcastle, Exhibition Park - Aerial Blossom Site - Close Up. Credit Google Earth

Coventry is the latest city to confirm plans for a new blossom garden as part of an ambition to create hundreds of blossom spaces in urban areas across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years.

The National Trust and its partners also hope to create a UK-equivalent of Japan’s world-famous Hanami (blossom viewing).

The new blossom garden in Charterhouse Heritage Park will mark Coventry’s tenure as City of Culture.  And, today, the locations and plans for blossom plantings in Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth, first announced in February, have also been revealed.

The National Trust has also confirmed 46 new blossom projects which will be planted on the land in its care across the country over the next few months.  

Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, CJ Wildlife and the National Trust, projects include: creating new orchards at Stourhead in Wiltshire and Antony in Cornwall; the creation of a new edible forest of fruit and nut trees circled with blossoming hedgerows at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire; a new avenue of flowering cherry trees at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire; new blossoming trees to encourage people to explore different areas of the estate at Winston Churchill’s home, Chartwell in Kent; 750 blossoming trees in the South Lakes to become the next generation of blossom trees in the area; replacing lost trees in the orchard at Crom in Northern Ireland and planting new blossom trees across the Gower and Brecon Beacons in Wales

All plantings will help towards the Trust’s ambitions to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030 to help in the fight against climate change and to create more homes for nature.  They will also help in its aim to help tackle unequal access to green space across Britain and build on the importance given to green spaces and nature during lockdown when thousands found time spent in nature beneficial not just for their physical health but mental wellbeing too.

Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust said:

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm from towns, cities and local communities around the country after our first blossom garden was unveiled in London this year.  Bringing more blossom to cities and to National Trust landscapes is an important part of our plans to plant 20 million trees, give more homes to nature and help people connect with nature wherever they are.

“This project goes back to our roots and one of our founders’ key desires – to ensure more people have beautiful spaces to enjoy.”

In Coventry, the trees will be planted in the newly-created 70 acre Charterhouse Heritage Park.  Members of the local community will be asked to share their thoughts on where the blossom garden should be located, its design and uses for the space.

Lucy Reid, National Trust Assistant Director of Operations for the Midlands, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Historic Coventry Trust (HCT) to create what will be a special place for local people to spend time, reflect and connect with nature. 

“The Charterhouse Heritage Park is a 70-acre site where land is being regenerated by Historic Coventry Trust to provide an important resource for community health and economic wellbeing on the edge of Coventry City Centre.  A blossom garden will be a beautiful addition to the park and we hope to inspire and work closely with neighbours to leave a lasting legacy.”

Ian Harrabin, Chairman, Historic Coventry Trust, said:

“The landscape around Charterhouse has been important to the citizens of Coventry for many years, and the local community have come together to make sure that this space is an oasis for wildlife and people, and an area of calm and tranquillity on the edge of the bustling city. 

“Historic Coventry Trust has been working in close partnership with the National Trust at Charterhouse over the last few years, and we are excited to work with them to develop this blossom garden to allow all to escape, refresh and reconnect with nature for many years to come.”

In Newcastle, Urban Green Newcastle, working in partnership with the City Council and the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, will plant 26 ancient varieties of cherry blossom tree, Prunus ‘Tai-Haku’ trees – at Exhibition Park, an area on the outskirts of the city close to the University and the hospital. 
The plans are for a double avenue ‘swirl’ of blossom trees by the lake with a circular pathway.  
Barbara Hooper, Director, Parks & Allotments at Urban Green Newcastle says:

“We are delighted to be part of this wonderful initiative, which will allow us to create a beautiful space in the heart of our park which will, we hope, evoke a sense of wellbeing and calm.  The location of the blossom circle will provide a real focal point, giving visitors a natural place to stop and take a moment to contemplate and embrace nature.”

The sites in Nottingham will be planted at Lenton Recreation Ground, a popular and historic site 30 minutes from the city centre and St Mary’s Rest Garden on the edge of the city adjacent to the popular Victoria park.

At Lenton recreation ground, 28 ornamental mature cherry trees will be planted along a new path through the park to give the area a new focal point.

Cllr Rosemary Healey, Lead Councillor for Parks and Open Spaces at Nottingham City Council says:

“We hope to create a space for reflection and remembrance following the coronavirus pandemic.  

“Our plans will also enable us to explore our wider ambition of tackling inequality in parks and to make them more appealing and safer for more people to enjoy.”

Twenty ornamental, semi-mature cherry trees will be planted in an avenue style at St Mary’s Rest Garden on the edge of the city centre, adjacent to the much-visited Victoria park.

Cllr Healey continues:

“We hope to create a beautiful space for the local community where they can connect to nature.

“We know that trees absorb harmful pollution and can help reduce stress levels.  This site based in Nottingham City Centre will create a peaceful sanctuary so that more people can enjoy moments of calm away from busy city life.”

The Plymouth site will be located on the coast at Devil’s Point, overlooking Plymouth Sound on the south-west coastal footpath which also has local significance due to being the place where families coming to wave off members going to sea on naval operations.  

The trees will be planted in a semicircle design and will be used to highlight the blossoming meadows below the waves in the seagrass beds just offshore.  

Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “We are delighted to be a part of the blossom project which will create a people space for hope and reflection as we move forward from the pandemic.

“Our location on the waterfront at Devil’s Point is already incredible, with community space to enjoy beautiful views and a host of other activities. That’s why it’s so great that with the addition of the blossom circle, we’ll have a further pull for the area; and the chance to celebrate the beauty of spring and nature year after year.”

Funding for the projects in Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth has come in part from People’s Postcode Lottery.  

Laura Chow, Head of Charities said:

“We’re delighted funding raised by our players is supporting Blossom Together, an important initiative bringing people and communities together through nature spaces in Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth.

“It’s also fantastic to see and hear more about the creative ideas for projects at various National Trust places across the country – and we’re excited to see how these trees start to grow and bloom over the coming years, to bring joy to the many visitors to these places.”

For more information on the blossom projects visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom-together, or to make a donation to the charity’s tree planting ambitions visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plant-a-tree 


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