British Queen celebrates

The Mayor of London has today marked the anniversary of the nation’s first national lockdown by planting the final trees at the London Blossom Garden.

The Mayor joined Nicola Briggs, Director for London & the South East from the National Trust, and key workers from TfL and the NHS to plant the final two trees in memory of those who have died in the pandemic, honour the vital efforts of key workers and mark the impact of COVID-19 on our capital.

More than 18,000 Londoners have died from COVID-19, and the London Blossom Garden is being created at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a lasting, living memorial and to be a place for Londoners to contemplate and reflect on the impact of the pandemic. The public garden has been planted in the north of the park in Newham, which has been one of the worst hit boroughs by the pandemic and was home to the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL exhibition centre.

In partnership with the National Trust and with support from Bloomberg, a total of 33 blossoming trees will represent all London boroughs and the City of London. Eight species of spring blossoming trees have been chosen as the blossom season coincided with the first national lockdown last year.

The new public garden is due to open to the public later this spring and will be the first and flagship site in a series of National Trust blossom plantings in towns and cities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The pandemic has devastated our city and our country, and as we mark one year since the first national lockdown it’s important that we remember all those who have tragically lost their lives.

“By planting the final trees today in the new London Blossom Garden, we pay tribute to those who have died, honour the efforts of our key workers and reflect on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on our capital. 

“We know that our fight against the virus is not over, but this garden will be a lasting, living reminder of the way Londoners and our country have stood together during these incredibly challenging times.” 

Nicola Briggs, Director for London & the South East from the National Trust said: “Today we are all taking some time to reflect on the past 12 months and what many families and communities have been through since the first lockdown.  

“We hope this garden will give the local communities in particular the space to contemplate the last year, and as it grows and establishes itself, become somewhere that is a symbol of hope.

“This planting is the first of many that we are planning throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland with our aim of bringing more beauty and nature to urban areas so that more people have a space near them where they can simply just ‘be’ and one which can help enhance their wellbeing.”

Anthony Lewis, chair of Newham Homeless action group and founder of performance poetry group Lewistry, said: “I have friends and family members that have died from this insidious disease and it has had an alarming effect on mine and members of Newham's community’s mental health and wellbeing. Knowing that we have somewhere peaceful to go and reflect and remember those that have passed in such beautiful surroundings will bring a lot of closure to residents that have been affected by this pandemic.”

Jemma Read, Global Head of Corporate Philanthropy, Bloomberg L.P said: “Covid-19 has affected and connected us all. As we reflect on a year of great loss and great resilience, we hope the London Blossom Garden will provide a collective space to remember those we have lost and those who have worked to keep our community safe. The new public garden will also stand as a symbol of hope. In years to come, its blossoming trees will remind us of how Londoners came together to support each other through this incredibly challenging time.”