National Trust Creates Tree Oasis at Heart of City Centre Site

Conservation charity continues celebration of blossom including launch of animated film from Birmingham-artist

·       National Trust installs more than 70 young trees at the Smithfield Festival Site, which opens to the public today (Friday 29 July)

·       Part of Birmingham 2022 Festival, the pop-up garden at the heart of the city centre venue provides somewhere visitors can connect with the natural world, relax and play among apple, cherry and plum trees

·       Smithfield opening marks first screening of Birmingham artist, Martin McNally’s, blossom animation commissioned by the National Trust

·       With support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, trees from the installation, along with a further 500, will be planted around the city this winter to increase the number of blossoming trees in urban places and create a symbolic ‘ring of blossom’ around Birmingham

The National Trust has installed more than 70 young trees at the Smithfield Festival Site in Birmingham city centre and revealed a specially commissioned animation to celebrate blossom in urban places.

Part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and the conservation charity’s Blossom Together programme, the temporary garden opens to the public today (Friday 29 July) and is free to visit. The installation features a mixture of apple, ornamental cherry and plum trees, colourful benches, hammocks and badminton kits to provide somewhere people can connect with the natural world, relax and play.

The creative space has been designed by Tate+Co, one of the leading sustainable architects working within natural environments, in collaboration with innovative design firm studio 8FOLD, thanks to funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Through its Blossom Together programme, the National Trust is working with partners across the country to bring more blossom to urban places. In Birmingham, the charity is giving away more than 600 blossoming trees to residents and community groups around the city.

Lucy Reid, who leads the National Trust’s Birmingham Strategy, said:

We’re so pleased to be part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and to bring our celebration of nature and blossom to people visiting the city. Spending time in green spaces is good for our wellbeing and the environment, so it’s important to look after and create more green spaces in our towns and cities as well as in the countryside.

During the spring we had a great response to our pop-up blossom gardens at Birmingham Cathedral and next to the indoor markets on Edgbaston Street, and now we’ve brought all of those trees together at the Smithfield Festival Site to create our third pop-up garden. We’re looking forward to seeing people take a few moments to notice nature and enjoy sitting among the trees – or if they’re feeling a bit more energetic, picking up a racquet and playing a game of badminton.

To further promote and celebrate the beauty of blossom in urban places, the National Trust commissioned Birmingham artist, Martin McNally, to create a short, animated film about what blossom means to people. McNally worked with community groups around the city and the voices of those he spoke to are featured in the film.

The Blossom Together animation will be shown for the first time at the Smithfield Festival Site today and will be shared on large screens around Birmingham over the next ten days.

Talking about his inspiration for the film, Martin McNally, said:

I’ve always enjoyed seeing nature growing in manmade places, so it was a joy to recreate natural and manmade elements and bring them together. I wanted the film to not only be a representative of Birmingham, my hometown, but also of the people and plants that live here.

The decision to let community groups steer the direction of the work was a way of giving back to the community, but it made the film blossom into something I couldn’t achieve on my own and generated a communal narrative about beauty, rejuvenation, and the relentlessness of nature.

Lucy Reid added:

We absolutely love what Martin has created in the film, he captures the beauty of blossom in urban places and highlights the joy it brings, and its importance for nature. The recent extreme heat brought the reality of global warming into sharp focus and one of the ways we can help tackle the crisis is to look after nature and plant more trees in our towns and cities, as well as in the countryside. Trees are particularly good as they absorb carbon and other pollutants and produce oxygen.

Birmingham was once surrounded by orchards and small gardens and referred to as ‘a town ringed by blossom’[1]. In recognition of this botanical history, the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is aiming to create a new, symbolic ring of blossom by giving away more than 600 blossoming trees, including those currently at Smithfield, to residents and community groups based near the number 11 bus route, which circles Birmingham.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at the People’s Postcode Lottery, said:

We’re very pleased that players are supporting this project. 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.

Those interested in receiving a free blossoming tree are asked to email to register their interest. Collection or delivery will be arranged in time for planting to take place in January 2023.

Lucy Reid, said:

The next phase of the Blossom Together project will see the trees find permanent homes around the city, creating a legacy of enjoyment and appreciation for the trees and their blossom.

For more information about the National Trust Blossom Together installation at the Smithfield Festival Site visit