Get planting this Centenary

Crocus Remembrance

Crocus Remembrance - Credit: Archant

The Royal British Legion is calling on the public to plant a living legacy for those who fought and died in the First World War as part of its Centenary commemorations. Working in partnership with Ashridge Nurseries on a project called Centenary Gardens, the Legion aims to keep the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War alive for future generations.

Sunset Apple trees

Sunset Apple trees - Credit: Archant

The Centenary Gardens project will allow people to go online and choose from a selection of over 100 trees, shrubs or roses and plant them in their garden or somewhere special to them, their family or community to create a living memory. A minimum of 50% of the profits will go directly to the Legion, which is the National Custodian of Remembrance, to support its work as the nation’s leading armed forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present, and their families.

Dr. Stephen Clarke, Head of Remembrance at the Legion says: “The idea of planting a living legacy in commemoration of those who died in the First World War brings to life the notion of passing on the torch of Remembrance to the next generation. Living tributes of this nature can last for decades if not hundreds of years, standing as a lasting reminder of sacrifices that have been made on our behalf.”

A selection of the plants available

• Arthur Turner Apple Bush (from £20.00)

Raised in 1912, Arthur Turner was named in memory of the breeder’s son who died in the field in Flanders in 1915. It is one of the best early cooking apples, a popular garden variety, suitable for northerly, wet areas. It is an early cropping bush and so the fruit does not store well, but ripening happens over a period of several weeks meaning they can be picked fresh over an extended period.

Tips for planting:

Most Read

Smaller trees such as Arthur Turner need a planting hole about 80-100cms square and about 30cms deep. Remove all weeds, roots, stones and other rubbish and mix a bucket of well-rotted compost with the soil from the hole before planting. Bang the stake into the ground, the windward side of the tree (usually South West) before planting. Plant the tree at the level it was growing before, return the soil, firm well and water very thoroughly.

• Remembrance Rose (from £6.50)

The Remembrance Rose is used to commemorate loved ones, symbolising loyalty enduring beyond all else. The appearance of the Red Remembrance rose is similar to the poppy which is commonly used as the lasting symbol of remembrance and peace, adopted by the Royal British legion in 1921.

Tips for planting:

Roses are best planted where there is plenty of light; they love sunshine and at least want high light levels. You can grow climbing roses through a shady area so they can get to the sun, such as up and over a shady wall or through a tree. Ideally your roses should get at least half a day of sun in the summer to perform at their best.

• Oak Tree (from £32.00)

The decision to plant an oak, with a life expectancy of 500+ years is an appropriate choice to create a living memorial, allowing us to never forget the sacrifices made by the British on the battlefields of Europe.

Tips for planting:

Be sure to destroy all weeds and remove the grass in a metre-wide square / circle around the base of the tree. If you are planting in the middle of a lawn, you can clear a smaller area. Prepare the soil well in advance of planting by digging the soil over to remove stones etc and adding in some well rotted manure / compost. All establishing trees must be watered during dry weather for at least one year after you plant them. During winter, the rain will normally take care of this for you.

• Peace Rose (from £6.00)

Elegantly hued, the ‘Peace rose’ is a perfect choice of plant in terms of vigour, hardiness, and the long lasting ability of its bloom. Its dependability makes it the perfect flower to create a lasting memory.

Tips for planting:

Roses like a moisture retentive soil, but drainage should be good. Masses of well-rotted organic matter is the answer as it improves soil quality and enriches at the same time. When preparing a rose bed, it is well worth while covering it in a layer 3-4” deep of well-rotted compost or horse manure and digging it over thoroughly to the depth of a spade. Your roses will be there and flowering beautifully for the next 20-30 years and this initial preparation will pay huge dividends all through their lives.


Gardeners of all varieties, no matter what space they may have available, will be able to place orders, handled through Ashridge, at over the next four years throughout the commemorations of WWI.