Elizabeth II, a queen close to nature

A lover of roses, admirer of the Chelsea Flower Show in London, a fervent campaigner for the protection of Commonwealth forests, the Sovereign was always passionate about plants and their environment. Faithful to the gardening traditions of Great Britain.

On June 7, 2014, on an official visit to France, the Queen of England, dressed in a pink suit, went to the flower and bird market on the Ile de la Cité in the company of François Hollande and Anne Hidalgo. On that day, the place – which she discovered in 1948 during a visit to Paris – was renamed “Marché Elizabeth II”, in honor of her passion for botany.

Chelsea Flower Show, a date the Queen never missed

In London, the latter never missed a copy of the Chelsea Flower Show, the largest garden fair in the world (140,000 visitors in 5 days), organized every year in May by the Royal Horticultural Society, of which she was the godmother. Her first visit dates back to 1955. As far as I know, she’s been there every year except for 2020, when the show didn’t take place due to a health crisis, and in 2021, when she was still in BalmoralThis is an exceptional event in September.says French landscape architect Pascal Garbi.

The Queen went there on Monday – ‘Queen’s Day’ – the day before the event opened to the general public. She arrived at 3 pm, accompanied by the royal family, visited all the landscape creations and met the journalists and dignitaries present that day. “I called her several times and once had the opportunity to chat with hercontinued. It was an incredible moment. She was already very interested in the world of gardening and spent time there. »

On May 23, Elizabeth II did not fail in tradition. She once again honored Chelsea’s flower show with her presence. A few weeks before the Jubilee, a new rose, baptized ‘Rosa Elizabeth’, was competing for an award, lauded by many of the stands. Though she seemed alert, she made a round of the saloon in a golf cart, The gardener remembers. Many people thought this was probably their last visit. »

A queen committed to protecting the forests

The Queen of England’s passion for plants didn’t stop at the Chelsea Flower Show. In 2018, she was promoting a project to help protect the forests of 53 Commonwealth countries. A program she presented in a documentary filmed in the gardens of Buckingham Palace – broadcast on ITV1 – alongside naturalist and writer Sir David Attenborough.

Wandering through the garden alleys, aroused her passion for nature, she gave some tales of Buckingham’s plant species: Platanus hispanica planted by Princess Mary on October 15, 1915, the tree planted by Queen Victoria which Elizabeth II loved to climb as a child, erected at the birth of each child of her children…

Passion for pink roses

The Queen also speaks of her roses, the flower she especially loves, with a weakness, she says, for those in shades of pink. In 1954, American nursery Lammerettes also imagined a rose bush to celebrate his coronation. ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979, and is now one of the world’s best-selling cultivars. In 2021, she received from the President of the Royal Horticultural Society a red rose, in honor of her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, which she planted at the foot of the balcony of Windsor Castle.

Elizabeth II, who has many times supported forest conservation measures, has always been very committed to all environmental issues. Already in 2009, she had a botanical garden planted in Buckingham Palace and made it an honor to have it grown without pesticides.

The exotic greenery of Balmoral

In Balmoral, in the Highlands, Scotland, the summer residence of the royal family, where Elizabeth II spent the last days of her life, the Queen enjoyed horse riding in this 20,230 hectare park. To Prince Albert we owe the exotic plantations of conifers to this property that he acquired for his wife, Queen Victoria, in 1853. Upon his death, King George V established the gardens of the French castle, and in the 1950s, the Prince. Philip added a stylized water park.

On the other hand, if Elizabeth II loved nature, she was not in the habit of laying her hands on the floor. “She would admit, to her, that gardening was just weeding.”Isabelle Riviere—author of Elizabeth II, In the Intimacy of the Covenant (2013, Editions Points)—explained in the Huffington Post, in 2014.

Charles III, an enlightened gardener

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, now King, in 2002 at the Chelsea Flower Show. Adobe Stock

The new King of England Charles III is an enlightened gardener. The godfather of London’s Kew Garden, one of the most prestigious botanical gardens in the world (121 hectares), has an exceptional garden on his Highgrove property. With advice from botanist Miriam Rothschild, this ecologist ahead of his time imagined this visionary garden housing the UK’s largest collection of beech trees. It is a place to inspire, excite, enchant, and appease the spirits who would love to say the new English King.

All the English gardeners who exchanged with Elizabeth II were under the influence of magicFinally, says Pascal Garby. DrThursday evening, I texted some of them, they are very sad. They now feel like orphans. »

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