Did you know that Birmingham used to be known as a ‘town ringed by blossom’ because it was surrounded by gardens and orchards.
Now the National Trust is today [Thursday 24 March] celebrating this beautiful history by launching two pop up blossom gardens in the city centre
You can find them over the next six weeks at St Phillip’s Cathedral Square and Edgbaston Street, next to the indoor markets, featuring as part of the Commonwealth Games Festival.
It comes as the conservation charity also announces plans to plant more than 500 blossoming trees, including ornamental blossom and fruit trees, around the city.
The tree planting project is supported by People’s Postcode Lottery.
When was Birmingham known as ‘the town ringed by blossom’?
Birmingham, described historically as a ‘town ringed by blossom’, was once surrounded by gardens and orchards.
New data released by the National Trust reveals in 1900 there were 186 hectares of orchards in the city – the equivalent of just over 11 Bullring shopping centres – compared to just 29 hectares today, with a further 0.5 hectare of modern orchards.
However, this drop of 85 per cent actually shows that Birmingham has fared better than most cities in the country and retained some of its orchard sites.
What will happen to the pop-up trees after the six weeks?
Trees from the National Trust’s city centre blossom gardens will be moved at the beginning of May and will reappear at the Commonwealth Games’ Smithfield live site at the end of July when they will create a ‘green space’ in the fan zone.
In the autumn, the conservation charity will start a blossom legacy planting programme when the trees from the installations, along with more than 500 ornamental blossom and fruit trees, will be planted in and with local communities to recreate a symbolic ‘ring of blossom’ around the city, following Birmingham’s 27-mile, iconic number 11 bus route.
The Trust is calling on residents and community groups across Birmingham to join the legacy planting programme and ‘adopt’ a tree. Anyone who’d like to find out more and get involved can email [email protected]
What have the National Trust said about the blooming Birmingham plans?
Lucy Reid, Assistant Director for the National Trust, who leads the conservation charity’s work in Birmingham, said: “This year is very special for our city and we are delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival by creating a celebration of blossom right in the heart of the city.
“We’ll also be creating a lasting legacy by recreating a symbolic ‘ring of blossom’ inspired by Birmingham’s botanical history and planted in local neighbourhoods around the city.
“Many of the orchards which were once in and around Birmingham in the 18th and 19th Centuries have been lost with urban expansion, but we can see them on historical maps – some have inspired street names such as Cherry Street near Birmingham Cathedral, which used to have a cherry orchard next to it. In fact, the locations of all of our pop-up gardens were close to traditional orchards at one time.
“Spring is always such a welcome time – and even more so in these last two years. Blossom is not only good for our souls, it’s vital for pollinators too.
“It’s all too easy to miss this fleeting moment in nature’s calendar, so we want to encourage everyone to take a moment to notice blossom, to feel the benefits that connecting with nature gives us, and then to join us in sharing this with others via #Blossomwatch on social media.”
Who else is supporting the tree planting project?
The National Trust Birmingham Blossom pop-up gardens have been developed in partnership with Birmingham 2022 Festival, Birmingham Cathedral and Birmingham City Council with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Anna Pitt, Chief Executive at Birmingham Cathedral, said: “We’re delighted to be hosting one of the blossom garden installations in Cathedral Square.
“As the only green space in the heart of the city, enjoyed by thousands of people every day, it is wonderful to be able to partner with the National Trust on this beautiful project. As life begins to return to normal, the blossom trees are a symbol of promise and hope, and we are delighted that people returning to work and socialise in the city will have the opportunity to take a moment in Cathedral Square, against the backdrop of these marvellous trees.”
The National Trust is also working closely with Birmingham City Council on both the blossom project and Naturally Birmingham, the city’s Future Parks Accelerator programme that is finding new ways to care for Birmingham’s greenspaces.
Simon Needle, Principal Arboriculturist for Birmingham City Council, said: “There are over one million trees in Birmingham which together we call the Urban Forest.
“Many of these are within council management in Birmingham’s parks and woodlands and around 75,000 on our streets. Together they are delivering essential benefits for climate adaptation, biodiversity and of course our own health and well-being. And yet most of the time they go unnoticed. But it’s in the spring when the showy blossom arrives that trees are really noticed and enjoyed.
“Partnering with the National Trust on their Blossom project gives us a great opportunity to engage even more people with trees, promote their benefits and, through a planting programme, grow the Urban Forest and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
A final word from the National Trust….
Lucy Reid, added: “We’re aiming to celebrate botanical history by recreating the shadow of past orchards that encircled the city through ornamental cherry tree planting and would love to hear from people living around the city and community groups who are interested in being part of this fantastic project to bring more blossom to our brilliant city.”
For further information and to make a donation towards the National Trust’s tree planting ambitions visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birmingham-blossom
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