Tulips from Canada
23 January 2017
The red and white of the Canadian flag is a familiar sight during remembrance ceremonies at the CWGC’s Brookwood Cemetery, in Surrey, and now there will also be a seasonal reminder.
The Canadian High Commission in London has donated hundreds of special sesquicentenary commemorative tulip bulbs for planting at Brookwood.
As part of Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, Dutch growers have helped develop a new tulip – the Canada 150 – which blossoms with white leaves and red flames, looking remarkably similar to the country’s maple leaf flag.
Tulip bulbs leave Canada House, London
The High Commission has planted thousands of the special-edition bulbs in the Victoria Embankment Gardens in central London this month.
Several hundred of the bulbs were also donated to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which, it is hoped, will turn the flower beds at Brookwood a colourful red and white in the spring.
The CWGC Brookwood Military Cemetery contains the graves of more than 2,700 Canadian servicemen and women, mostly from the Second World War.
Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mrs Janice Charette, said of the bulbs that mark 150 years of nationhood: “We are very proud to be able to share these commemorative Canada 150 tulip bulbs with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I cannot imagine a more fitting place for these wonderful blooms than Brookwood War Cemetery and we remain grateful to the CWGC for their work in helping us all to remember those who sacrificed so much for our freedom.”
The Canada 150 tulip was first unveiled in Canada last year. As part of the sesquicentennial celebrations, more than 300,000 have been planted in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, ready to bloom this spring.
The first tulip beds in Ottawa were planted in 1945, when the Netherlands sent 100,000 tulip bulbs as a post-war gift in gratitude for the role that Canadian soldiers had played in the liberation of the Netherlands.
This month’s donation of bulbs to the CWGC is recognition of the Commission’s role as one of the world’s leading horticultural organisations, with gardeners and horticultural experts working in 154 countries.
David Richardson, Director of Horticulture for the CWGC, said: “The CWGC is delighted to accept these commemorative bulbs, which will be planted in the Canadian section of the Brookwood Military Cemetery. We look forward to seeing them bloom, marking not only Canada’s sesquicentenary but also the CWGC’s centenary.”
Brookwood Military Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the United Kingdom, covering approximately 37 acres. The site contains 1,601 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 3,476 from the Second World War.
In 1917, an area of land in Brookwood Cemetery (The London Necropolis) was set aside for the burial of men and women of the forces of the Commonwealth and Americans, who had died, many of battle wounds, in the London district. This site was further extended to accommodate the Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War. There is a large Royal Air Forces section in the south-east corner of the cemetery (which also contains the graves of Czechoslovakian and American airmen who served with the Royal Air Force) and the Air Forces shelter building nearby houses the register of the names of those buried in the section.
A plot in the west corner of the cemetery contains approximately 2,400 Canadian graves of the Second World War including those of 43 men who died of wounds following the Dieppe Raid in August 1942. The Canadian Records building, which was a gift of the Canadian government in 1946, houses a reception room for visitors and other offices.