Inspire your students with the Gift of Blossom
Ten brilliant blossom-inspired activities perfect for the classroom or the Easter break
“Cherry blossoms are special in Japan because they bring people together.” Student at The British School of Tokyo
With the sweet smell of blossom and merry birdsong filling the air and the days getting longer and warmer, it’s clear spring is officially here! This winter has presented many challenges, so seeing new life all around and the return to school for many staff and students is even more cause for celebration.
Blossom is one of the most strikingly beautiful signs of spring. The delicate flowers signify the end of winter and the start of spring, representing a time of optimism, hope, new life and beauty.
Our ten ‘Gift of Blossom’ activities can be done in the classroom or shared with families for the upcoming Easter holidays. The activities will give you pictures and resources, such as poems and drawings, to fill your Orchards for Schools gift box. Once you’ve filled your gift box with memories, share it with other schools to inspire them to register to join the Orchards for Schools programme.
Scroll down to hear the students from The British School in Tokyo share their thoughts and experiences of Sakura (blossom) season.
Find out more about Sakura from students in Tokyo
Watch our webinars!
Register now for our next free webinar: Care and Community.
The webinar explains how to care for your fruit trees and hedgerows and how to inspire and engage your school community. The webinar will take place on Wednesday 28 April at 15:30-17:00.
Tree Care: Marvellous Mulch!
Our partner Lewis McNeill from The Orchard Project explains the importance of using mulch to keep your trees healthy and happy. The video covers the purposes of mulch, how much mulch, the type of mulch you need and much more.
“A healthy tree depends upon healthy soil.”
Let’s get planting webinar
Our partner Lewis McNeill from The Orchard Project goes through all the important information you will need to help you plant your orchard. The webinar covers how much space you will need, how to store your trees, how to organise your planting event and much more.
“This was so useful, thank you. Can’t wait to plant our orchard”
Tree Warden support webinar
Our Tree Warden Co-ordinator Sam and National School Programme Manager Richard run through how Tree Wardens can help support their local school plant their own orchard!
The Orchards for Schools Pledge
With a little maintenance and planning, trees give back so much more than we put into them. But they do need to be cared for, especially in the tender early years of their growth. If you apply for an Orchards for Schools tree pack, you are also signing up to our Orchards for Schools Pledge to Plan, Grow and Care for your trees.
Using the resources and guidance provided, you will create a well-thought out tree planting project, making sure you plant your trees in a suitable location. Access to an outdoor tap is also key as the trees will need regular watering to help them establish. You will also plan how you’re going to engage your pupils in learning and caring for your trees beyond the initial planting. You will also have permission to plant the trees in a place where they can remain for years to come.
Trees must be planted where they will have light and space to thrive over the next 25 years. You will carefully position a cane and tie to support their early growth and keep the space around the base of the tree clear of vegetation with a 4cm layer of mulch which helps and provides nutrients.
You will water your trees regularly including during the school holidays if there are periods of dry weather. Thanks to the resources provided, you will engage your pupils with caring, learning from and celebrating your trees through club and lesson activities. You will observe the young trees, checking for disease and pests to ensure they remain healthy.
Find your incredible school
Thank you to over 730 amazing schools that have decided to be a #ForceForNature this planting season and plant an incredible 32,000 fruit trees and fruiting hedgerow saplings. Schools from the Isles of Scilly to Fort William in Scotland are taking action, you are all fantastic. See if you can find your school on our interactive map.
Frequently asked questions
Who is eligible for a fruit tree and hedgerow pack?
Fruit and hedgerow tree packs are available to all schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All nurseries, primary, secondary and special schools both dependent and independent are eligible to apply. Youth organisations and other community organisations are not currently eligible, however they may make an application for tree project support through our Branching Out fund.
How much time will my orchard project take to manage?
Compared to growing annual plants like tomatoes and salads, fruit trees require much less annual care once the trees are established. However there is more to do in the first few years in order to get them established; they’ll need to be watered, weeded and guarded for the first three years.
It’s important that senior management allocate time for an enthusiastic member of staff to be assigned the lead contact for the project. The lead contact will need to complete the application process and to make sure there is a plan in place to involve pupils in your school to help plant, connect, learn, share and care for your thriving fruiting orchard or hedgerow.
Do I need landowner permission for my new orchard or fruiting hedgerow?
Make sure you have permission from the landowner for the proposed location to plant the trees before completing the application form. Worth checking your school improvement plan for any new proposed developments onsite.
Where is the best location and how much space will I need?
If you apply for a fruiting tree pack, you will need to ensure a distance of 4 metres between the trunks of each fruit tree (5 trees per pack). If you apply for a fruiting hedgerow pack, you will receive 30 saplings per pack which equates to a hedgerow 5-6 metres long and at least 1 metre wide.
Make sure you have permission to plant on the land you plan to use for your orchard and/or hedgerow. Consider any new developments that may be proposed onsite. Plant where your trees can receive lots of sunlight and where the drainage is good. Also consider a location that is accessible to all and allows you to easily water your young trees and saplings regularly (near an outdoor tap). Also consider getting help by setting up a Young Tree Champion club – more details on this to follow soon.
What type and how many fruiting tree and hedgerow packs are available?
You can apply for up to 4 packs, comprising a combination of fruit trees and hedgerow packs per school. Each fruit tree pack contains 5 maiden fruit trees (2m high). Each hedgerow pack contains 30 saplings (1m high).
Fruit tree pack – Contains everything you need to create your own mini-orchard! Each pack will contain a combination of apple, pear and/or cherry. Each country in the UK will have a different mix of apple, pear and/or cherry trees. It is not possible to select which fruit/varieties of tree you receive.
Fruiting hedgerow pack – Is really great for wildlife and perfect if you don’t have much space. Each pack will contain a combination of native fruiting and field hedgerow saplings. (There are no nut producing saplings in any of the packs).
When will I receive my orchard pack or fruiting hedgerow pack?
Successful applicants in England who applied before the 19 October will receive their tree and hedgerow packs between the 30 November and the 13 December. Due to overwhelming demand, all schools that apply/have applied for tree and hedgerow pack applications for England from the 19 October will receive their packs from the 11 January 2021.
Applications will remain open until 23 February 2021, which is the final date to apply for your packs before the application form is closed. Applications received by 23 February will receive their tree packs by early March 2021.
Please remember that deliveries must be made to manned school sites, so ensure you note a delivery address where someone will be available to receive the packs during work hours.
How do we keep our trees alive and healthy?
When your tree and/or hedgerow packs arrive get them into the ground straight away and give them a good water – they’ll be thirsty from their journey! Make sure you use the stakes, tie and guard to help protect your young trees from rabbits and strong winds.
Make sure you setup a young tree champion club. Recruit pupils from all years that really want to help save the planet and become a #ForceForNature. You will need their help to regularly water your young trees and/or hedgerow saplings for the first year and beyond, especially when the weather is dry. Your champions can also engage the whole school in learning about the wonder of your trees.
Consider recruiting a local Tree Warden (see Tree Wardens) to help provide advice and expertise on caring for your trees.
Before your bareroot trees or hedgerow saplings arrive, mark out the location of your trees and make sure you’ve removed the turf or immediate vegetation (1m radius). To give your trees and/or hedgerow the best start make sure you dig each hole 30-50cm deep and turn the soil over, removing weeds and add mulch. This will give your trees the nutrients they need to grow.
Can our fruit trees be planted in pots?
Yes, fruit trees can be planted in pots – the trees you’ll be provided are the maximum size recommended for containers, and you’ll need pots/containers of 1 metre x 1 metre x 1 metre. They should be planted with mulch, to help provide vital nutrients for the young trees and retain water. Pots should have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent roots becoming waterlogged if overwatered or due to rain.
Want to know more?
Learn more about the Tree Council’s Orchard for Schools programme.
Inspiring learning outdoors!
Christchurch Primary, London
Thanks to The Orchard Project, the school community became orchard experts, successfully planting, pruning and harvesting from their thriving orchard and sharing their skills and expertise with other schools.
A great place to play, learn and relax!
Thanks to Learning through Landscapes, the students and community from Dunipace Primary have learnt about and grown their very own orchard full of local Scottish varieties of apples, plums and pears.
No soil? No problem!
Normand Croft Community School, Kensington, London
Thanks to The Orchard Project, this school transformed their barren, unused space into a thriving, living learning area! “From the planning and fruit-tasting of the consultation to the planting and caring of the trees – this has been the most wonderful learning journey!” Annie Walker, Outdoor Learning Project Leader.