The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden celebrates the garden’s historical connections with the Royal Family, which date back to RBGE’s origins in 1670 as a Physic Garden at the Palace of Holyrood. This memorial garden is rich in planting and design. It also gives an insight into the life of the admired and much loved Queen Mother. King Charles III is also our patron and has a great love for nature and conservation. The Queen Mother was King Charles III grandmother.
The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden central area has recently been redesigned. A popular area of the garden with visitors, this green tribute to the late 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 had been struggling with the effects of long periods of drought. 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 was found to be the wrong plant in the wrong place, and our new design replaces 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. 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.
At the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh it is becoming clear that global climate change is influencing rainfall, and our plants’ ability to adapt to the environmental impacts of water management. Too much water can lead to catastrophic flooding, while too little creates long droughts which stress plants making them more prone to pests and diseases. Thinking towards future sustainable garden design our planted landscapes now need to be able to soak up extra rainfall. At the same time they need to be able to cope without irrigation or watering during periods of drought and still look visually impressive.
The new plan, was presented to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on their visit to RBGE in October 2021. The new design by Herbaceous Supervisor and garden designer Kirsty Wilson has a saltire design layout, inspired by the Queen Mother’s beloved garden at the Castle of Mey in Caithness. At its centre are shrub roses that are surrounded by a mix of naturalistic herbaceous perennials, grasses and bulbs creating an attractive tribute to the late Queen Mother.
The outer edges of the garden are still planted to represent different geographical areas of the world, with plants from Asia, Europe, North America and the Southern Hemisphere to celebrate the Queen Mother’s love of travel. The much loved shell grotto or memorial pavilion still stands as the key focal point in the garden. The ceiling is decorated with an assortment of pine cones and shells collected from across Scotland. This beautiful space provides a tranquil and peaceful shelter in which to contemplate the Queen Mother’s remarkable life.
The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden was opened by Queen Elizabeth in July 2006, when she was accompanied by King Charles III and Queen Camilla.