The National Trust is to lead a major project planting so-called "blossom circles" across the UK in aid of "emotional recovery" from the pandemic.
Last spring, many UK residents took comfort from the bloom of blossom trees during the strain of the first lockdown, and the National Trust now hopes to replicate this feeling across the country.
The body has said the project hopes to inspire a UK equivalent to the Japanese hanami - the custom of relishing in the scent and fleeting presence of blossom.
The project is being funded by money from People’s Postcode Lottery, with the trees not only providing comfort to the public but helping the National Trust to achieve its ambition of planting 20 million trees by 2030 to combat climate change.
'Everyone needs beautiful, open spaces, wherever they live'
Preparations have already started at some of the planned sites, including the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, where the design for the blossom circle features 33 trees grown in the UK, including hawthorn, cherry, plum and crab-apple. The number of trees represents the 33 boroughs of the capital.
More blossom circles will be planted in Plymouth, Nottingham and Newcastle upon Tyne, with further locations set to be released by the National Trust in due course.
The circles will be used for various purposes, including workshops, festivals, events and social gatherings as lockdown restrictions are eased.
Hilary McGrady, the charity’s director general, said: “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. Everyone needs beautiful, open spaces, wherever they live.”
The project has been supported by various political leaders and partners, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said the London blossom circle would serve as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the pandemic.
“It will also be a tribute to the amazing ongoing work of our key workers and create a space for Londoners to contemplate and reflect on all this global pandemic has meant to our city and world,” he said.