Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, who was 96, died today at Balmoral castle in Scotland. Well known for her love of the outdoors, she leaves a rich legacy behind—not the least of which is over 1,500 trees planted throughout the world during the course of her reign—with over a million more being planted in her honor.
As part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations (marking 70 years since her accession to the throne in 1952) this year, a UK-wide tree planting initiative began last Fall. Dubbed The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), with the motto “Plant A Tree For The Jubilee,” over a million trees were planted from October 2021 to March 2022. Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girl guiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and corporates were encouraged to play their part to enhance the environment by planting trees. More trees will be planted as part of the initiative next month.
Included in the trees to be planted this October will be 350 British-grown species that were exhibited as part of the “Tree of Trees” living sculpture by Thomas Heatherwick that stood at Buckingham Palace during Jubilee Weekend. The 350 trees in aluminum pots embossed with Her Majesty’s cypher will be gifted to selected community groups and individuals to celebrate their work and inspire the next generation of tree planters. The trees will be distributed evenly across the UK in proportion to the population. The QGC is giving priority to those seeking to create a cleaner, greener environment which will work towards a living legacy for the Platinum Jubilee.
As well as the planting of new trees, QGC has dedicated a UK-wide network of 70 Ancient Woodlands and 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service. When launched in May, The Prince of Wales recorded a video message under one of the Ancient tree dedications – the old Sycamore at Dumfries House in Scotland. His Royal Highness said “…I am delighted to have the opportunity to launch this project in the grounds of Dumfries House under the majestic branches of this old Sycamore, which pre-dates the very House itself, having grown from seed more than 420 years ago. Planted in 1599, during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James VI, it is remarkable that this ancient tree is as old as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Caravaggio’s David and Goliath…. Let us ensure that in her name we can now protect and strengthen this wonderful living Canopy for the next seventy years and, hopefully, way beyond. And, above all, let us ensure that future generations can celebrate and enjoy them.”
By sharing the stories behind the Ancient woodlands and trees, as well as the incredible efforts that are made to protect them, The QGC aims to raise awareness of these treasured habitats and the importance of conserving them for future generations. The Ancient Tree dedication marks the start of a long-term project to propagate material to ensure that the genetic resource and unique characteristics of some of the UK’s most important trees is preserved.
In addition to the old Sycamore in Scotland, dedications were also made in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. In Wales, the Wyesham Oak is 1,000-years-old.
Other notable dedications include:
- Balmerino Sweet Chestnut, Fife – planted by Mary Queen of Scots in 1565
- Glen Trool – site of the battle in 1307 between Robert the Bruce and Earl ofPembroke (for Edward I)
- Apple tree, Woolsthorpe – inspired Sir Isaac Newton to think about gravity
- Five Hundred Acre Wood, Sussex – inspiration for 100 Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh