All aboard the Blossom Bus

17 January 2023 12:00 PM

National Trust Blossom Bus
  • National Trust gives away more than 600 trees to residents, community groups and schools based along Birmingham’s famous Number 11 bus route to create symbolic ring of blossom
  • First blossom trees delivered by National Express West Midlands bus as part of the charity’s tree planting week
  • Symbolic ring of blossom will celebrate Birmingham’s botanical history when it was referred to as a ‘town ringed by blossom’ in the mid-18th-century
  • The legacy project, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will help to improve biodiversity around the city

The National Trust is today (Tuesday, 17 January) launching its Birmingham blossom tree planting week by delivering young fruit trees on one of the city’s iconic National Express West Midlands Number 11 buses.

Thanks to funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the National Trust is giving away more than 600 blossoming trees to create a symbolic ring of blossom around the city and increase biodiversity.

Working closely with National Express West Midlands, the conservation charity is today jumping aboard a specially branded number 11 Blossom Bus to deliver a mixture of apple, pear, plum, and ornamental cherry trees to residents, community groups, and schools along the 27-mile number 11 bus route.

Across the country, the National Trust is working with partners to bring more blossom to urban places as part of its annual celebration of blossom. In Birmingham, the charity has been inspired by the city’s botanical history when it was surrounded by orchards and gardens with blossoming trees and referred to as ‘a town ringed by blossom’.

Lucy Reid, who leads the National Trust’s Birmingham Strategy, said: “We’re so excited to be at the planting stage of the new, symbolic ring of blossom around Birmingham. Last summer we put a call-out for people to register for free blossoming trees and we were delighted with the response. Now, those trees are being delivered and planted with everyone involved playing their part in an important legacy for the city.

“Blossom is not only beautiful, it’s also vital for the wellbeing of our environment – and for us. It is great for pollinators such as bees, which help trees produce fruit, and the trees also help to clean the air we breathe by absorbing carbon and producing oxygen.

“We know that, through urban expansion, since the 1900s the number of orchards in Birmingham has dropped by 85 per cent – that’s an area the equivalent of around 10 Bullring shopping centres. This legacy project is helping to bring back some of that blossom and we hope to encourage more people to plant blossom trees too.”

The trees are being given away to residents, community groups and schools based around Birmingham’s circular Number 11 bus route to create a symbolic ring of the blossom. The iconic route is operated by National Express West Midlands and serves over 260 bus stops near 233 schools, colleges or universities, 69 leisure and community facilities, 40 pubs, 19 retail centres, six hospitals, and one prison. The tree roots will take around two years to become established but should bloom for the first time this year.

One of the residents helping to create the symbolic ring of blossom is Claire Unwin. Explaining why she wanted to take part, Claire said: “We have an allotment and when I heard the trees were being given away, I thought it would be perfect to have one or two at the allotment to help with pollination as well as bring some colour during spring. I’ve always enjoyed seeing blossom on the trees, it marks a beautiful start to the season and everything coming to life.”

Another recipient of trees is Hodge Hill College, a secondary school in Birmingham. Garry Griffin, Building Manager, at the school said: “We try to make the most of our green spaces, so we jumped at the chance to support the project and bring some extra blossom to the school. It’s great to get the pupils involved as well so they have a better understanding of our natural environment and why it’s important to look after it.”

The blossom tree planting is the latest stage of a legacy programme that started last spring when the National Trust created pop-up blossom gardens in Birmingham city centre as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. The trees then went on to create a nature oasis at the Smithfield festival site during the Commonwealth Games.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at the People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We’ve been excited about this project from the very beginning and we’re really pleased players are supporting it. Now the trees are being delivered and planted, the ring of blossom is coming to life. Bringing more blossom to communities around Birmingham will bring beauty, joy and help improve the environment. What’s also lovely about this project is that communities will come together to plant and care for the trees so it will create connection as well.”

In a bid to bring blossom back to landscapes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the National Trust has vowed to plant four million blossoming trees as part of its commitment to plant and establish 20 million trees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2030. In Birmingham, the National Trust will continue to bring the joy of blossom to communities around the city this spring with a programme of activities. To keep up to date with events, follow @NTBirmingham on Twitter and @NTMidlands on Facebook.

For further information and to make a donation towards the National Trust’s tree planting ambitions visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom-watch