Heathside Preparatory School

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Heathside plants Sakura Cherry Tree

The tree planted by Heathside School in Hampstead Heath’s Golders Hill Park’s is one of the 6,500 Japanese cherry trees – or Sakura in Japanese – given to the UK by Japan, and planted across the country in parks, gardens and schools to celebrate Japan’s relationship with the UK.

The project will be a legacy from the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020, which aims to showcase Japan’s multifaceted attractions in the UK. The Season provides the opportunity to learn more about Japan, its culture and people through hundreds of events ranging from arts, sports, cuisine and performance.  Once the Season ends, members of the public will start to witness the 1000s of cherry trees blossom in spring 2020 and beyond.

The Sakura Cherry Trees will be distributed to over 400 schools and 160 sites in all four countries of the UK from St Ives to Aberdeen to Londonderry, Cardiff and several of London’s biggest parks. The project was formally launched with a planting ceremony at The Regent’s Park attended by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, the Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine, Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project Keisaku Sandy Sano and local schoolchildren.

All of the varieties of cherry trees to be planted as part of this project are of Japanese origin.  The vast majority will be of three varieties, ‘Beni-yutaka’, ‘Taihaku’, and ‘Somei-yoshino’, which have been chosen for their variation in colour, timing, and historical significance. For example, ‘Taihaku’ is a large, single white blossom variety, which became extinct in Japan but was reintroduced to its homeland by Britain’s Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram in 1932.

Most of the 6,500 trees will be planted across the UK in autumn 2020, following the planting of 125 trees in The Royal Parks in autumn 2019.  Frank P Matthews nursery in Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire is the main supplier of the trees. The renowned Japanese artist, Kenya Hara has provided the design of the commemorative plaques.  This permanent and lasting symbol of the enduring friendship between the UK and Japan is entirely funded by Japanese businesses and individuals and managed by the Sakura Cherry Tree Project team.

The Duke of Gloucester is patron of the Japan Society which aims to improve understanding of the cultures, societies and businesses of Japan and the UK.

The Duke of Gloucester said, “What better way to commemorate the long-standing friendship between the people of the United Kingdom and Japan, than the planting of Japanese cherry trees that will live on for future generations to enjoy.  I would like to congratulate all of those involved to make possible such a worthwhile project.”

Katherine Vintiner, Headteacher of Heathside School said, “Heathside is immensely grateful to receive this gift. In turn, we have donated our tree to Hampstead Heath so that it can be planted in the Water Garden in Golders Hill Park where many people can enjoy it. Heathside and Hampstead Heath have a long-standing relationship and I am delighted to be joined today by our special guest Chizuko Winter and some of our senior students to see our tree being planted in this lovely location.”

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Saturday 24th September 2022

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