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Edinburgh Botanic’s poppy field to honour war dead

The Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. The poppy field will be located on the Gardens Glasshouse Lawn. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Edinburgh Botanic Gardens. The poppy field will be located on the Gardens Glasshouse Lawn. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by LUCINDA CAMERON
 

A botanic garden is creating a poppy field at its centre to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The display at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will commemorate the 73 employees who went to war, 20 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 Glasshouse Lawn, will be sown in May and the flowers are expected to emerge in late July in time to mark the centenary.

During the First World War, battlefields that were blasted and bombed created ideal conditions for poppies to flourish.

RBGE’s Regius Keeper Simon Milne said: “Plant symbolism is an important part of cultures across the globe, particularly through representing emotions and spirituality.

“It is therefore fitting that at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the heart of Scotland’s plant heritage, we mark the anniversary of the start of World War One with a poppy field.

“I hope that the flowers will encourage people to reflect on the 16 million people who lost their lives and the impact that the war had on the lives of everyone.”

The Garden’s horticultural team will sow the the common poppy Papaver rhoeas, which has been used to commemorate the Great War since 1921.

The large, four-petalled, scarlet flower can lie dormant for many years before germination which is often triggered when the soil is disturbed.

David Knott, Curator of the Living Collection, said: “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 will all be 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.

 

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