28 July 2017

Tyne Cot gardeners add finishing touches ahead of Passchendaele commemorations

After seven years of planning, planting of more than 40,000 flowers and raking of eight kilometres of borders, the team at Tyne Cot is now adding the finishing touches ahead of next week’s commemorations.

 

On Monday (31 July), HRH the Prince of Wales together with TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and TM the King and Queen of the Belgians will attend a special commemorative service at the CWGC’s Tyne Cot Cemetery alongside more than 4,000 descendants of the men who fought.

Senior Head Gardener at Tyne Cot Gerry White said planning for the ceremony, hosted by the Commission and UK Government as part of a series of events commemorating the Centenary of Passchendaele – The Third Battle of Ypres, began in 2010.

“In 2010 we started to look at what needed doing in terms of planting and turf work,” said Gerry. “In 2012, we start to put the plan in to practice by replacing all of the borders at Tyne Cot. That’s eight kilometres of borders, which needed 40,000 plants and 2,500 roses. We had people from the five groups around the Ypres Salient, around 50 men and women on site for three to four weeks.”

Since then, the four gardeners based at the cemetery have been busy maintaining the grounds, its 40 trees, and replacing any dead plants, however they have faced some obstacles.

“Drought conditions have made things difficult because plants are flowering too early or for a shorter period,” Gerry said.

This week, around 60 gardeners from the six groups around the Ypres Salient and Armentières were at the cemetery raking, cultivating and flipping the borders as work began to build stages and put lighting and screens in place.

“It’s now down to the last minute jobs. We’re walking around and checking the site, but hopefully we won’t find much that still needs doing,” said Gerry.

“It’s been a really exciting project. The gardeners have all really risen to the challenge and are looking forward to Monday. We have done all we can to make it a success.”