Major Redesign for Queen Mother's Memorial Garden
Plans to counteract the impact of climate change get underway at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) this week, as the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden is closed to the public for a major redevelopment.
Long popular with visitors, this green tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was inspired by the Eassie Cross, near Glamis Castle, her childhood home. However, in recent years, the famous labyrinth of bog myrtle (Myrica Gale) at the heart of the garden has been struggling with the effects of long periods of drought.
Kirsty Wilson, Herbaceous Supervisor and Garden Designer at RBGE explained: “As the name implies, bog myrtle is a moisture loving plant, typically to be found in Scottish peat bogs. With changing weather patterns, this area of the Garden has become increasingly dry.
“It is now the wrong plant in the wrong place, and our new design will replace the bog myrtle with species that are more robust and better able to withstand the impact of these emerging weather patterns, whether that is drought or excessive rainfall.”
The new plan, presented to the then Duke and Duchess of Rothesay on their visit to RBGE in October 2021, has a saltire design layout, inspired by the Queen Mother’s beloved garden at the Castle of Mey in Caithness. At its centre will be shrub roses edged with an evergreen hedge, surrounded by a mix of naturalistic herbaceous perennials and bulbs creating an attractive tribute to the late Queen Mother.
As well as providing plentiful year-round colour for visitors to enjoy, the plantings will also provide a rich pollen and nectar source for much-needed pollinators.
The area will close for refurbishment on Monday 10 October 2022 and the new landscaping is expected to be complete and open to visitors at weekends later in 2022. The full redesign will be complete by Autumn 2023.
The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden was opened by her late Majesty the Queen in July 2006, when she was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.
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The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden was designed by architect Lachlan Stewart to reflect the life of the Queen Mother with a labyrinth of bog myrtle (Myrica gale), in a pattern of interlocking ‘E’s at the centre of the garden. Bog myrtle is a native of the Scottish Highlands and is highly ornamental with its branches covered in golden catkins in spring, and golden leaves in autumn.
The planting surrounding the Labyrinth is formed into four geographical areas – Asia, Europe, North America and Southern Hemisphere, to represent the Queen Mother’s travels throughout her life. Unlike most planting in the Botanic Garden, plants included in this area are purely ornamental, rather than the phyto-geographical wild collected displays found elsewhere. Many of the plants in this area are from commercial nurseries, many with royal connections or regal connotations in their names.
Each geographic region has a focal tree, with other shrubs and herbaceous plantings in the surrounding borders all representing the flora of that region.
The final focal point is the Pavilion. The structure is built from Caithness stone, which has also been used for the path and the slab wall which is engraved with the names of the organisations for which she was patron and the regiments for which she was Colonel in Chief. The detailing of this structure is a celebration of Scotland, with the seating and other details made from native oak. The shells and pebbles were collected by school children from across Scotland, whilst the pinecones, which again represent the four corners of the globe, were collected from RBGE and its three regional gardens.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education, and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland, its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract more than a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future.” Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk.
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