A shroud of flowers for the gardens of London

A shroud of flowers for the gardens of London

Since the announcement of the death of Elizabeth II, hundreds of thousands of people have come to lay bouquets of flowers in the Buckingham Palace gardens. These flowers will be turned into compost and will nourish the Royal Gardens of London for a long time to come.

Valery Carlisle in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

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Valery Carlisle holds a pretty bouquet of flowers in her frail hands, a neat arrangement, in shades of cream and blue. The lady who came from Ireland to salute the memory of her queen is very moved.

I remember his coronation well. I was four years old and my parents let me watch the event on television. She was my queen, she said, her eyes misty.

Before being able to place her bouquet among all the others in Green Park, a huge green space behind the palace, Valery Carlisle, like the others, has to wait in a short line. And she doesn't complain, because it's for a good cause.

Thousands of Londoners rushed to Buckingham Palace to lay flowers.

Royal parks employees must remove the ribbons and plastic wrappings that wrap the bouquets to put them in huge recycling bins before letting people enter the site.

It's great. It will keep our flowers and trees alive, the green will be greener. We love plants in Britain, she says.

Jo Scrivener returns her bouquet. The man works as a foreman for London's royal parks, usually former royal family game reserves made available to the public. There are eight in Greater London. These green spaces which belong to the Crown total 22 km2.

Jo Scrivener returns her bouquet, Foreman for the Royal Parks of London

All of these flowers will be transported over time to Kensington Garden, where we have a large composting site. The employee of the royal parks, a horticulturist by training, explains how much the British value the art of gardening. We are all botanical lovers! explains Jo Scrivener.

Two hundred volunteers supervised by the City of London are there to guide visitors with arms laden with flowers.

It's my first day volunteering here, wearing my purple bib, and I'm super excited,” said Calum West, 29. I wanted to take part in the story. And here I am. I live this iconic moment. And I had never seen so many flowers in my life. It's incredible.

These flowers are beginning to slow transformation into compost.

Since the announcement of Elizabeth's death, it has been rather warm in London. In the palace gardens, a heady smell envelops visitors. Wilted flowers have already been removed from the site to make way for new ones. Such is life. We are born. We wither. We die.

A fate that even queens cannot escape.

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