Capital's memorial garden for Queen Mother is taking root
WORK on a memorial garden to honour the late Queen Mother has got under way in the Capital's Royal Botanic Garden.
The 600,000 needed to build the garden, which will boast a giant Pictish maze, is now in place and the attraction is expected to open next summer.
David Bowes-Lyon, chairman of The Queen Mother's Memorial Fund, said he hoped the Queen will do the honours for the official opening.
The Queen Mother, who died in 2002 at the age of 101, boasted close ties with Edinburgh.
The spectacular tribute garden has been designed by renowned architect Lachlan Stewart, with a labyrinth at the heart of the garden inspired by ancient Pictish patterns.
Mr Bowes-Lyon, who is also the Queen Mother's, cousin, said: "We are thrilled to reach the 600,000 needed for the garden and it's remarkable that we've reached it in such a short space of time. The Queen has taken a close interest in the project and it would be excellent if she had a space in her diary for the opening but it's something we're working on."
The Queen Mother memorial will also feature an 18th century-style grotto and secret gardens, while an amphitheatre will provide a gathering place for educational tours and projects.
Building in the first phase of the project is expect to be finished by the turn of this year and all the planting is expected to be done by spring 2006. The memorial's maze is based on the interlocking patterns found in Scottish design since Pictish times, particularly from the Eassie Cross-slab in Angus near Glamis.
Its maze of hedge corridors, surrounding the secret gardens and centre circle, contains all the false starts and misleading directions necessary to give visitors the feeling of being lost as they work their way through the puzzle to the centre of the maze.
The Queen Mother's memorial garden will include a shell grotto at one end of the garden providing a sheltered meeting place. Its sand-castle shape and shell decoration is based on 18th-century garden features.
The Queen Mother's Memorial Fund for Scotland is aiming to raise 1 million in total to allow for the construction of memorials, including the maze in Edinburgh and new wrought iron memorial gates for Glamis Castle, her childhood home.
Alasdair Macnab, director of corporate services at the Royal Botanic Garden, said:
"Nursery staff have been preparing the necessary array of plants during the course of the summer and the memorial is on course for completion in the new year. All the indications are that this project will emerge as a magnificent tribute to The Queen Mother."
The Queen Mother had a long association with Edinburgh dating back to 1936 when she received the freedom of the city. When coming to Scotland, she would often stay at the Palace of Holyroodhouse or with her late sister, Lady Elphinstone, at Carberry Towers near Musselburgh.
The Queen Mother was patron of the Thistle Foundation in Craigmillar and opened a number of buildings in the city, including the science wing at Fettes College.
Fundraising for the memorial fund is continuing and a Royal gala evening will take place at the Queen's Hall on December 14.
HRH The Princess Royal is expected to attend the concert, which will feature Edinburgh-born pianist Malcolm Martineau and soprano Lisa Milne.
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