By Jill Brooke
Among her many thoughtful gestures for the British people, Queen Elizabeth opened up the East Terrace Garden at Windsor Castle, created by George IV in the 1820s, for the first time in over 40 years during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, the Queen and Prince Phillip – prior to his death – moved to Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s Scottish summer estate. The Queen decided to open up the garden so that the public has a special place to have a visual treat. It was also the place she decided to be at the end of her life.
And of course, it is so understandable why Balmoral is so special to her. There are over 3,500 rose bushes – plenty of David Austin ones – planted in a precise pattern around a central fountain. Look at the petals and that dreamy peach color that is now in bloom.
During the pandemic, Queen Elizabeth also made a point to contribute to the on-line version of the Chelsea Flower Show and even share her favorite flower. Turns out it is the lily of the valley which is also the flower she had in her coronation bouquet.
Queen Elizabeth showed such leadership during this crisis in many ways, both in action and words.
Not only role modeling wearing a mask right away- that brilliantly matched her signature floral hats – but also giving motivational speeches to Britain and the world about fortitude, patience and perseverance.
The formal gardens are meticulously groomed and nostalgic as well. During World War II, she and her sister Princess Margaret turned a portion of the space into a vegetable garden that produced corn, tomatoes and beans. The flowers were dug up and replaced by vegetables to show how the Princesses were contributing to the war effort.
All these years later, it’s where she’s spent four months of lockdown.
Here’s a romantic little tidbit. Knowing how special this garden is to his wife, in 1971 Prince Phillip redesigned the flowerbeds and even commissioned a bronze lotus fountain that he personally designed.
The garden owes its current grandeur to the efforts of Queen Elizabeth’s relative, Queen Victoria.
As a flower lover, Queen Victoria ushered in an era of floral appreciation in the 19th century by creating beautiful gardens and popularizing the language of flowers. Her beloved Prince Albert took particular interest in the garden’s planting scheme, and in the early 20th century, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra held large garden parties there each summer.
It obviously is a special place for the Queen.
It is also the site where she was photographed in 2016 by Vanity Fair’s Annie Leibovitz.
At.a time when there are reduced pleasures, seeing a magnificent garden is definitely a treat. Not a surprise that a pink Grandiflora rose called “Queen Elizabeth” was created in 1954 and won the “World’s Favorite Rose” in 1979.
Queen Elizabeth often advocated the benefits of walking in a garden and being around flowers. She also wore floral fashions because they lifted her spirits and was a cheery contrast to the damp British weather. After all, a garden not only nurtures flowers, nourishes the body, but also feeds our souls. May she rest in peace.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD, floral editor for Aspire Design and Home magazine and contributor to Florists Review magazine.