There are, and will be, many stories to read and listen to as the 54 countries of the Commonwealth pay tribute to a much-loved long-serving monarch. Here, I thought we might take a look at just a few of the plants that have been named in her honour, a memorial garden if you like.
Not surprisingly, the most recent addition to the garden is a rose, ‘Elizabeth’, released earlier this year to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and showcased at the Chelsea Flower Show. The David Austin-bred rose is described as having a strong and sweet fragrance of Old Rose and lemon sherbet with apple-blossom pink petals, and was created especially to mark Queen’s Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne. “Exceptionally healthy and versatile of habit, she forms a shapely and commanding shrub.”
Released in 1954, the year after the 25-year-old’s coronation, ‘Queen Elizabeth‘ was bred by Dr Walter Lammerts in the United States. This one is a vivid pink floribunda, described as having long, upright stems and being “very much for the back of the border”. Steven Desmond, writing for Country Life this year, said, “Its perfectly formed flowers were visible from a long way off, not least because of its exceptional height. In summer, I could barely see over it. No less a judge than David Austin described it as ‘indestructible’.” Read the full article here. Among the many awards over the years for ‘Queen Elizabeth’ are the World’s Favourite Rose (1979) and the Award of Excellence for Best Established Rose (2015).
Desmond notes in his article that Clematis montana ‘Elizabeth’ appears to be the first plant named in the Queen’s honour after her coronation, developed by Jackman’s nursery of Woking in Surrey. It was awarded a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 1993. The very pale pink, vanilla-scented flowers have a pretty satin sheen, while the stamens have white filaments and pale yellow anthers. This plant particularly likes having its feet in the shade.
Jackman’s Nursery was a family business from 1810 to 1967, when it was sold. George Jackman, father and son with the same name, together began hybridising clematis in 1858. A garden centre is still in business, but the Jackman name was dropped in 1996.
Rhododendron ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ is a compact plant bearing masses of primrose yellow-greenish flowers. “As with all yellow rhododendrons, this plant does need good drainage (but not dry conditions!). It also needs some shelter.” The plant won an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2013.
Dendrobium ‘Elizabeth’, with twisted Dresden-yellow petals and a uranium-green lip, was named in honour of the Queen when she visited Singapore in 1972, said Whang Lay Keng, curator at Singapore’s National Orchid Garden.
“Dendrobium Elizabeth is a majestic, robust and resilient plant,” she was quoted as saying. “It’s kind of like how Queen Elizabeth carried herself.” After Queen Elizabeth’s death, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens loaned a flowering plant of Dendrobium ‘Elizabeth’ to the British High Commissioner, to be displayed alongside pictures of the monarch in his residence.
The orchid Vanda ‘Platinum Jubilee’ was on show at Chelsea this year and was named by Dr Lawrence W. Zettler to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s milestone. The orchid was created by Robert Fuchs, president of the American Orchid Society and owner of R F Orchids of Florida (click on the link to see photos of the orchid).
“At the conclusion of the show, as we were taking down the display, several people asked if they could buy the orchid on the spot,” Dr Zettler said. “We told them ‘no’ because they were headed to the Queen herself. We then loaded the orchids into a taxi that waited outside the gate, and off it went.” Read an interview with Dr Zettler here.
Bulbs of Narcissus ‘Diamond Jubilee’, named to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne, were planted in a grassy area of Buckingham Palace garden in 2011. Given that she has also been the monarch of Wales and the daffodil is the national flower of that country, it should be no surprise that she has a beautiful diamond daffodil brooch. Read more here. It’s thought that in 2012 the Sultan of Oman may have gifted her a set of four brooches, one for each country in the United Kingdom, for her diamond jubilee.
The Regal Hebe range is apparently bred in Waikato, but so far I haven’t found out more than that. A new release is ‘Elizabeth’, which will grow into a small shrub with masses of pink flowers through summer. The plant is happy in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil and is frost hardy. Trimming spent flowers will help keep it compact. See a picture here.