The Queen Mother's Memorial Garden at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was officially opened on 7 July 2006 by Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.
Lachlan Stewart of Anta Architecture designed the Memorial Garden and based it largely upon the motif of the historic Eassie Cross near Glamis Castle.
Each of the four corners is split into different geographical areas of the world, with plants from Asia, Europe, North America and the southern hemisphere. At the heart each of these sectors is a circular seating area with a central specimen tree acting as a strong focal point.
A stone pavilion acts as another strong focal point to the Memorial Garden. Caithness stone was used for the remaining hard landscaping areas such as the circular path forming the boundary between the labyrinth and the main planting areas. Engraved tablets of stone bearing the names of societies, charities and companies with whom the Queen Mother was associated are also made of Caithness stone.
At heart of the Memorial Garden is the labyrinth planted with bog myrtle (Myrica gale). This attractive plant is common in the Scottish highlands and is also highly ornamental: in spring its branches are decked in golden catkins, in autumn the leaves turn a lovely golden yellow.
A double hedge of common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) has been planted between the circular path and the geographical planting. It is envisaged to keep this hedge to a maximum height of 1.5m.
The design of the Memorial Garden and plants chosen for it differ greatly from the contemporary planting schemes found in modern botanic gardens - they are purely ornamental, unlike the phytogeographical displays of wild collected plants seen in the Chinese Hillside and the Bhutanese Glade at Benmore Botanic Garden). Most plants were sourced from commercial nurseries, including cultivars with royal connections such as Rosa 'Queen Elizabeth' and in many cases we chose varieties with regal connotations in their names.
One of the most remarkable temperate trees provides the focal point of this area. Cercidiphyllum magnificum from Japan gets its name from the resemblance of its leaves to those of the genus Cercis (Judas tree).
Another gem of this region is Ligularia kanaitzensis from south-west China. The rest of the planting includes genera common to this part of the world, such as Hosta, Anemone, Iris, Primula, Ligularia, Magnolia, Trollius, Bergenia, Buddleia and Papaver.
North America section
The focal tree in this area is Liriodendron tulipifera 'Fastigiatum', a columnar cultivar of the tulip tree. It is native to the eastern side of North America. Its common name is a reference to its flowers resembling tulips. Its most distinct characteristic is its leaf, which is cut just above the middle into in a straight line, and so looks as if it is missing its upper half. The leaves turn butter-yellow in the autumn.
Among the herbaceous plants are Trillium chloropetalum, a native of California. Grown in part-shade in a humus-rich soil, it is one of the first plants in the Garden to flower. The maroon flowers have little or no flower stalk and sit regally above the bright green leaves.
The columnar form of our common oak, Quercus robur 'Fastigiata', has been used as the focal point in this area. Together with plants from mainland Europe, such as Aster, Salvia and Genista, plants representing each of the four constituents of the United Kingdom have been included.
Representing Wales is the Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambrica and for Northern Ireland there's the Irish yew, Taxus baccata 'Fastigiatum'. Many traditional English rose cultivars have been planted, and of course the labyrinth has been planted with Myrica gale, which is common in many parts of the Scottish highlands.
Southern hemisphere section
This region of the Garden is the most distinct, with great exotics such as Phormium, Fascicularia and Phygelius. The focal tree is Nothofagus antarctica, a small, elegant deciduous tree from the mountains of South America. It has a distinct habit and small, shiny leaves which turn yellow in the autumn.
The rest of the planting here includes Crocosmia and Agapanthus from South Africa while Hebe and Astelia dazzle from New Zealand.
Other garden features include....
- Chinese Hillside
- Ecological & Cryptogamic Garden
- Glasshouse Borders
- Herbaceous Border
- Peat Walls
- Rock Garden
- Scottish Heath Garden
- Woodland Garden