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Mayor to commemorate Londoners and impact of Covid-19 in capital with new public garden

Mayor to commemorate Londoners and impact of Covid-19 in capital with new public garden

  • 33 blossoming trees will be the centrepiece of a new public garden at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • The trees, one for each London borough, will commemorate Londoners, including key workers, who have lost their lives to Covid-19, as well as our city’s shared experience of the pandemic
  • The lasting living memorial will be the first planting in a National Trust spring blossom campaign to be launched in 2021, to improve people’s access to nature where they live

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that a new public garden of blossom trees is to be created to commemorate Londoners who have lost their lives to Covid-19 and the impact the virus has had on all of us since March.

In partnership with the National Trust and with support from Bloomberg, the Mayor is creating a lasting living memorial at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The blossom garden will allow all Londoners and visitors to the capital to contemplate and reflect on the thousands of lives that have been lost in London, the vital efforts of key workers, and the city’s shared experience of the pandemic.

A total of 33 blossoming trees will be planted at the heart of the garden, representing all London boroughs and the City of London. The eight species of spring blossoming trees have been chosen for the memorial as the blossom season coincided with the start of the first national lockdown in March this year, at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.

The trees will be planted in three rings – a central ring of 17 trees, and two smaller rings of nine and seven trees – in the north of the park early next year. The new public garden will be in the borough of Newham, which has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic and was home to the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL exhibition centre.

The Edible Bus Stop® and Davies White Landscape Architects have been chosen as the designers and landscape architects of the memorial and Rosetta Arts have been chosen to work closely with the community on its development. Local artist Junior Phipps will be collaborating on the design of a path and public benches.

This first commemorative planting is in partnership with the National Trust, and reflects the Trust’s ambitions to give more people, particularly those living in cities, improved access to nature. The blossom grove will be one of many to be planted across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The tree plantings also signal the start of the charity’s ambition to plant 20 million trees over the next decade, which it announced in January.

Further work is taking place with boroughs and TfL to commemorate the impact of Covid-19 on London and it’s key workers.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on our city and our country, and while we continue to battle the virus we are creating a lasting, living memorial to commemorate those who have lost their lives, pay tribute to the amazing work of our key workers and create a space for all Londoners to reflect on the experience of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has changed our capital forever. It has disproportionately impacted many of our communities and exposed and widened inequalities in our society.

“This public garden of blossom trees will be a permanent reminder of the lives that have been lost, a tribute to every single key worker, and a symbol of how Londoners have stood together to help one another.”

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Nicola Briggs, Director for London & the South East from the National Trust said: “Over the next few years we want to do more to bring beauty and nature to urban areas.

“This space will thrive and become more beautiful as the trees grow and become part of their surroundings.

“We want to work hard to ensure that together we design something that is appropriate for the neighbouring communities; somewhere that becomes a space for reflection as well as bringing nature and beauty to more people.”

Jemma Read, Global Head of Corporate Philanthropy, Bloomberg L.P said: “Through our philanthropic work in cities around the world, Bloomberg has experienced first-hand the role that shared public spaces play in re-building communities after tragedy.

“We hope the blossom garden will provide all Londoners with a space to honour the memory of those we’ve lost to Covid-19, acknowledge the efforts of those who worked to protect us and reflect on the lived experience of the pandemic that connects us all.”