1) That's one fact per tree. 2) There are 33 trees because each represents a London borough, including the City of London. Every time this fact is mentioned in Blossom Garden collateral the City of London has to be mentioned to silence whiny borough-counting pedants.
3) The London Blossom Garden is located in the northern half of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, between the central footbridge and the Timber Lodge cafe. 4) The garden is "a living memorial to commemorate the city's shared experience of the Coronavirus pandemic. The garden offers a place of reflection for Londoners to remember those who have lost their lives, and pays tribute to London’s key workers who risked their own lives to help others and keep our city moving." 5) It features blossoming trees because the pandemic first emerged in spring 2020 during the blossom season. 6) The garden's in Newham because it was one of the boroughs worst hit by the pandemic and home to the NHS Nightingale Hospital at ExCeL. 7) The London Blossom Garden has been created in partnership with the Mayor of London with support from Bloomberg, working with Rosetta Arts and landscape architects The Edible Bus Stop and Davies White Landscape Architects. Nobody delivers projects by themselves these days. 8) The garden was designed in conjunction with the National Trust who plan to create blossom gardens across the country - this is the first. If you're interested in doing this locally they've created a 57 page Blossom Together toolkit. 9) Some of the next blossom gardens will be in Newcastle, Nottingham and Plymouth, but this is a five year project and there'll be many more.
10) The garden features eight different species of tree - four varieties of cherry, one cherry plum, two crab apples and a hawthorn - which should help space out the blossom over a couple of months rather than it only looking fabulous for a fortnight. 11) The trees are arranged in three rings, one of 7 trees, one of 17 trees and one of 9 trees. The largest ring crosses the central path, the others are on one side or the other. 12) The landscape's not new - this double-banked grassy glade was created for the Park following the Olympics - so all that's really new are the path, the trees and the benches. 13) The wheelchair-accessible path up the centre of the garden contains 33 pieces of recycled concrete alternating with 33 pieces of reclaimed timber. 14) The three curvaceous benches are made from a) concrete batons which feature a petal-like marble content b) reclaimed tropical timber from various sites across London including Woolwich Ferry Terminal and fenders from an old canal lock in the Olympic Park. 15) Each ring has its own bench, for contemplation purposes.
16) The original planned date for the opening of the Blossom Garden was Monday 10th May but that slipped to Monday 24th May, I suspect because the spadework took longer than expected. 17) Work began in the first week of February and finished in the first week of May. I've watched it regularly throughtherailings. 18) Even when the garden was complete they still closed it off for an additional three weeks to give the trees and grass a chance to establish themselves. 19) The dazzling annual display of daffodils on the steepest bank went unadmired this year, except by builders and gardeners. 20) The dazzling display of blossom on the newly-planted trees also went unadmired this year because the whole garden took so long to create, so you'll have to wait another ten months to get the full effect. 21) Looking closely I think I saw a minor sprinkling of pink on one of the trees, but it'll wow nobody and it won't last.
22) I happened to be in the park on Monday, not knowing it was opening day, when I spotted rows of white chairs outside the entrance to the garden, a marquee and a crew of security staff milling around. The London Mayoral Roadshow had come to town, complete with a large bucket of brollies because the weather forecast was intermittently torrential. I knew I was too early for the ceremony because the red ribbon at the top of the slope was still intact. But the garden has two entrances and aha!... the other one was suddenly open after four months and untroubled by a security presence. I wandered into the lower half of the garden for a nose around - nice - while a bunch of gardeners eyed me suspiciously from further up the slope. They were giving the garden a good water before the bigwigs turned up, despite the fact it had rained heavily during the last ten minutes and would do so again before the grand ceremony. I didn't hang around to see the Mayor and the Director General of the National Trust do thehonours (and showcase bereavement charities in front of media cameras), but I did spot one of the presenters of Gardeners World dashing up from the station under an enormous umbrella trying to keep her dress dry. 23) I went back yesterday and the garden was already being well-frequented, as if it had always been here. Previously hardly anyone wandered off this way, but the new path appears to have boosted footfall considerably.
24) It's acceptable to sit on the benches or the grass, but frowned upon to picnic because this is a memorial garden. 25) It's also acceptable to leave floral tributes, so long as they go in the designated spaces next to the two information boards. Ribbons attached to trees will not be tolerated. 26) It's not acceptable to leave photographs, candles or other tributes such as soft toys - these will be removed and disposed of. 27) QEOP management have gone to the effort of producing Guidance for visitors, including what you can and can't leave as tributes, but this is only available as a pdf on their website and not visible in the garden, so that's a fat lot of use. 28) I didn't get a feeling of peaceful memorial garden, more a pretty place to walk through, but it's early days yet and a few bouquets left by the entrance could change the mood.
29) The garden isn't properly finished yet - two lengthy strips of turf are plainly struggling and the public are asked to keep off. 30) Park management are keen to emphasise the garden's eco-credentials so have plonked two signs in the central ditch telling us that "this sunken channel is a swale. It provides wet, marshy habitat for wildlife and directs rainwater away from the path and into the soil", but the signs do nothing for the overall aesthetic of the site which'd look nicer if they were removed. 31) Nobody's got round to putting the London Blossom Garden on the official QEOP map yet. 32) It's odd opening a memorial to a health emergency that hasn't finished yet, although it's uncertain whether London faces a handful more deaths or a full-on rolling wave. 33) It's a lovely idea, well executed, but you'll have to come back next April to see it at its best.