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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to mark First World War Centenary with poppy field

Posted  16 April 2014 in News  
By Kate Clements

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War by creating a poppy field at the centre of its Edinburgh site.

The display will commemorate the employees who went to war, many of whom lost their lives, and will also remember others who were, or still are, affected by war.

The poppy field, located on the Garden’s prominently-positioned Glasshouse Lawn, will be sown in May. The poppy is an iconic symbol of remembrance and has been used to commemorate the First World War since 1921.

This flower can lie dormant for many years before germination which is often triggered when the soil is disturbed.

During the First World War, battlefields that were blasted and bombed created ideal conditions for it to flourish. The sight of poppies inspired Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the well-known war poem In Flanders Fields, which refers to poppies growing there ‘row on row’.

RBGE’s horticultural team is planning for swathes of poppies to emerge in late July, in time to mark the centenary.

David Knott, Curator of the Living Collection, explained:

“We did trials with the poppy in our nursery last year in order to try and get the timing of flowering just right to coincide with the start of the commemorations. Once the poppies are planted, we are pretty much in the hands of the weather as to the result but we are all hoping our efforts will make a fitting and timely tribute.”

At the time of the First World War, the Garden had 110 staff and of the 88 men, 73 joined the forces and 20 lost their lives in action.

Find out more about the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

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