National Trust and partners signal hope and healing with blossoming ambitions in Nottingham

A year on from the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the National Trust and partners are looking to spring blossom to help signal reflection and hope with their plans to plant blossoming tree circles in cities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years.

Nottingham has been announced as one of first cities outside of London to join the project with plans for blossom gardens at Highfields Park and St Mary’s Rest Garden. Another two blossom inspired spaces are also in the pipeline for Newcastle and Plymouth with others expected to be announced soon. 

Part of the charity’s blossom campaign which kicks off in earnest next month, the ambition is to create beautiful green spaces in and near urban areas to connect more people to nature and to create more spaces for hope and reflection as the UK looks forward.

Although plans are in the early stages, working in partnership with Nottingham City Council, the Trust’s ambition is to create areas which will reflect the unique character of the city and its communities.

National Trust Blossom Programme Manager, Annie Reilly, said: “During the pandemic we’ve seen how important it is to have access to outdoor space and somewhere you can connect with nature, especially in urban areas. These blossom gardens will provide that much needed green space and we are delighted to be working with partners in Nottingham to create one of the first blossom circles in the country – and the first in the Midlands.

“Over the spring and summer our partners will lead community consultation on the design of the site and how local communities would like to use the space around the blossom. We then aim to begin planting in the autumn.

“As the tress will be young saplings there won’t be an instant blossom display in 2022 but we hope that communities will enjoy watching these trees develop and the spectacle of blossom flourish year on year, and will use the site from the next spring however they need and want to, whether as a space for quiet personal reflection or for communal celebration once it is safe to do so.”

Cllr Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council said: “Adding new trees to all the neighbourhoods in the city is essential. Alongside fighting climate change and pollution, nature and being able to socialise in open spaces is known to aid feelings of wellbeing and is great for the overall look and feel of the community; as well as attracting wildlife. We are delighted to involved with this fabulous project which supports our continued commitment to make nature and open green space available for everyone in Nottingham City.”

The first blossom circle, in London, is just underway, due for completion in April[1]. Across the UK, the annually blossoming tree circles, with support in part from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will be planted both on and off the Trust’s land, with the charity working with partners to ensure sites are accessible and meet the needs of local communities. 

Partners include Historic England who have also pledged to support the project as part of its High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme[2].

Last summer, a report by Vivid Economics highlighted inequalities in access to green space across Britain with 295 deprived urban neighbourhoods described as ‘grey deserts’, with no trees or accessible green space[3]. 

And last spring, many recognised the importance of access to nature during lockdown when so many found time in nature beneficial not just for their physical health but mental wellbeing too[4].  Thousands of people also shared striking images of spring blossom to help lift people’s spirits with the charity’s first ever #BlossomWatch campaign.

Hilary McGrady, Director General at the National Trust says: “Our vision is for nature, beauty and history for everyone.  Our simple ambition with this project is to bring all of these elements together in the creation of green, nature-rich havens in the very heart of urban areas which are also beautiful and inspiring spaces that people can use. 

“Our founder Octavia Hill recognised how everyone needs beautiful, open spaces, wherever they live.

“As we create more and more spaces we also want to embed annual blossom moments or celebrations in the nations’ cultural calendar.”

She continued: “Everyone needs nature and beauty.  We know how important it is for people to connect with nature in their everyday lives. These spaces will enable communities to do just that. It benefits people and the environment[5].  With 83 per cent of people living in urban areas in England[6], and many communities deprived of nature, we are going back to our founders’ roots with an ambition to bring nature to where it’s needed most.

“This project is just one element of our ambitions to plant more trees and to address Britain’s need for green space and nature where people live; but it has an important part to play.  If, by creating these blossom spaces, we can create areas for people of all ages to take notice and connect with the natural world – while also creating havens for urban nature – that has to be a good thing.”

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “I know from my time in Japan during the sakura season how beautiful cherry blossom can be. So, I very much support this National Trust initiative to open up new green spaces across the country and bring more of this wonderful spectacle to the UK. 

“It’s a fantastic example of how heritage organisations help make our neighbourhoods more beautiful and improve our physical and mental well-being, and I look forward to seeing this project bloom in our communities.”

Blossom Programme Manager, Annie Reilly added: “We will be working hard to ensure each space is designed to deliver something special in line with the individual needs of the local community.  They might be large or small, intimate spaces; they will only become more beautiful over time as the trees root themselves in their surroundings, and we hope, into people’s daily lives.

“We hope to inspire and work closely with neighbours to leave a lasting legacy – to develop a programme of activities and events with strong seasonal links which will chime with their needs and have the broadest possible appeal.  Ideas could include marking the start of spring by taking inspiration from the start of the blossom season – but also picnics, plays, readings and music events in the summer and autumn candlelit gatherings.”

The spaces will be supported in part by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the charity will also be actively fundraising to plant more tree circles.  For more information or to make a donation, visit

Posted on 01 March 2021

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Sophie Milne

A member of the Marketing and Communications team at Marketing NG, Sophie manages press and PR. This includes writing and distributing press releases, arranging FAM trips, liaising with the media to gain press coverage for Nottingham/shire and Marketing NG, monitoring the news and ensuring colleagues are kept up to date with news stories and doing media interviews.