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Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Information Sheet

The Commission’s Horticulture In the Beginning Even before the Imperial War Graves Commission was formally constituted in 1917 attempts were already being made by the Army Graves Registration and Enquiries, with assistance from the Red Cross, to make burial grounds along the Western Front less bleak by growing annual and perennial flowers, grass, shrubs and trees. In 1916 the Assistant Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew was asked to visit cemeteries in France and to make recommendations about the plants that should be grown, thus beginning an association that has lasted to the present day. As the pattern for the future maintenance of the cemeteries evolved in the immediate aftermath of the war, horticulture played an important part, and the architects worked together with horticulturists on the overall design of cemeteries. Some of the Commission’s principal architects, in particular Sir Edwin Lutyens, already had considerable experience of the sympathetic combination of structural and horticultural elements: the ideas of Lutyens’ horticultural mentor, Gertrude Jekyll, had a great influence in the cemeteries through the use of cottage-garden plants and roses in the headstone borders. The use of perennials shown overleaf at Couin British Cemetery demonstrates from the very early years how important these plants were to the first landscape designers.

Delhi War Cemetery

The Commission’s Horticulture  

Even before the Imperial War Graves Commission was formally constituted in 1917 attempts were already being made by the Army Graves Registra...

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