Residents and visitors in Newcastle-under-Lyme will be able to enjoy a delightful display of beautiful blossoms from Japan for years to come thanks to an initiative celebrating a long standing international friendship.

Thirty Sakura cherry blossom trees are to be planted on open space at Sandy Lane – a popular place for recreation – after the Council successfully applied to the Sakura Cherry Tree Project, a national donation scheme, to help celebrate 30 years of involvement in Britain in Bloom.

The independent, volunteer-led group is gifting the popular ornamental tree, known for its colourful and fragrant explosion of showy flowers in the spring, to create a lasting legacy of the Japan-UK Season of Culture – an enhanced period of relations – symbolising the strong relationship between the two countries. It’s been made possible by donations from Japanese businesses.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has received three varieties of pink and white cherry trees of Japanese origin called “Beni Yutaka”, “Somei Yoshino” and “Tai Haku”.

Local residents can comment on the planting scheme, and share their memories of community use of the site by visiting at until 5pm on Thursday, 4 March.

Cllr Trevor Johnson, Cabinet member for environment and recycling, said: “This is such a wonderful and generous gift from the Sakura Cherry Tree Project, especially in these very tough times, and it’s gratefully received. These beautiful trees can last for more than 30 years so it’s a poignant way to celebrate three decades of involvement in the country’s largest horticultural campaign.

“Tree planting has many benefits including making shared areas even more pleasant and
attractive for everyone to enjoy and providing a habitat for wildlife. It’s also one way to
improve the local environment by reducing harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This
will play a small part in helping the Council to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2030 –
as part of its newly adopted Environmental Sustainability Strategy – and delivering our
commitment to creating urban carbon capture woodlands in the borough.

“This land is a peaceful haven and has been enjoyed by residents for many years and especially during the pandemic. The scheme will enhance this much loved recreational area further for years to come by creating a central open space surrounded by cherry trees which will bring colour and joy when they blossom in the spring.”

Cherry blossom time in Japan is world renowned and is founded in ancient times when farmers would look to the appearance of cherry blossoms to herald the arrival of spring and
the right time to plant rice crops.

Yasumasa Nagamine, Japanese Ambassador to the UK, added: “We hope that people all
over Britain will join with us in embracing this chance to deepen mutual understanding, thus helping to create an enduring legacy. Yet the Sakura Cherry Tree Project will not just
represent the lasting impact of the Japan-UK Season of Culture but will be a wider
celebration of the cordial ties between Japan and the UK. Just like our relationship, these
trees will grow stronger as they mature and, each year when they blossom, I hope they
bring joy to people across the UK and remind them of the deep friendship between our two nations and peoples.”

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