Handpicked for a Queen
Flowers can say so much, but the thought is extra special when they’re named after you. By Eleanor Doughty
For most of us, the celebration of long service is unlikely to attract much fanfare. At the most, it’s a drink down at the local with a few colleagues of similarly pensionable age. Not for the Queen who, on September 9, celebrates (perhaps a little reluctantly) her entry into the record books as our longestreigning monarch. This anniversary will be marked by more than just a host of helium balloons in the grounds of Buckingham Palace: from commemorative china to tea cosies, there are honorary gifts galore to mark Her Majesty’s milestone.
But in the world of horticulture, this is nothing new: gardeners have been making gifts of flowers and plants to the royal, rich and powerful since time immemorial.
For the Queen, proceedings kicked off at her coronation in 1953; since then, namesake flowers have come thick and fast. First on the roll of honour is ‘The Queen Elizabeth’ rose, described by growers as “indestructible”. Developed in the early Fifties, it was named for the Queen’s coronation (see page three for John Hiorns’ description and a Gardenshop offer).
Roses are by far the most popular of the “royal” plants. The British rose breeder Peter Beales offers a Scarlet Queen Elizabeth rose, birth date 1963, perfect for brightening a dull hedge with a burst of regal red.
But each one of the flowers and plants presented to the Queen has its own story – and its own charm. The dendrobium orchid ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ was named following Her Majesty’s tour with Prince Philip to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei in 1972.
There are no laws against the naming of plants for people, says James Armitage, botanist at the Royal Horticultural Society, but it is advised that, should you wish to name a flower after a member of the Royal family, you seek their permission first.
And not just any old flower can have a royal honour bestowed upon it. “A rose named for royalty is going to be a variety that the breeder thinks is a very good one,” says Michael Marriott, expert rosarian at David Austin Roses.
One quality they all have in common is beauty, which is what