In memory of Queen Elizabeth, King Charles and Queen Camilla presented the first-ever ‘Elizabeth Medal of Honour’ as they attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Recipients include world-renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf, the Right Honourable the Baroness Janet Fookes DBE and environmental champion Judy Ling Wong CBE.
On arrival, the King and Queen met the President of the Royal Horticultural Society, Keith Weed, before touring the gardens and viewing the displays.
They came together for a special presentation in The Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration. The garden represents a celebration of the Coronation of Their Majesties and remembers Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
At the Garden, The King and Queen presented the first ever ‘The Elizabeth Medal of Honour’, which is for British non-horticulturists, and international non-horticulturists and horticulturists who have made a significant impact to the advancement of the science, art or practice of horticulture for the benefit of all generations and the environment.
The Medal will be confined to 70 recipients at any one time in reference to the 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign.
Recipients are world-renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf, the Right Honourable the Baroness Janet Fookes DBE and environmental champion Judy Ling Wong CBE.
The Elizabeth medal of honour will join the Victoria Medal of Honour, which was established in 1897, with the consent of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, to enable the RHS Council to give the highest possible honour and recognition to British horticulturists by the Society. In recognition of the duration of Queen Victoria’s reign, only 63 medals may be held at any one time.
Current holders of the VMH include His Majesty King Charles III who was presented the award by his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2009.
The Right Hon. the Baroness Fookes DBE has long been a leading voice in Parliament on the importance of horticulture for its role in supporting healthy lives and communities, sustainable landscapes, and protecting the environment against pollution and climate change alongside its significance for the economy. Baroness Fookes is a passionate supporter of horticulture, calling on Government for greater support to unlock the immense benefits it brings for society, young people and the environment.
Piet Oudolf is one of the world’s most renowned garden designers, creating sustainable and naturalistic schemes displaying nature and focusing on the seasonal life cycle of plants which are chosen for their shape and texture rather than just their blooms. He encourages gardeners to embrace the beauty of all seasons and has inspired millions away from the traditional and prescribed design of western gardens. Oudolf has a soft spot for grasses about which he has written many books. Ornamental grasses are among the most versatile and sophisticated of garden plants. Planted as single specimens in beds or on the terrace in a container, grasses are striking focal points. Smaller forms bring rhythm and diversity to mixed borders, and clumping forms richly carpet the ground. In Gardening with Grasses Oudolf and co-author Michael King provided equal measures of information and inspiration. Oudolf is also the author of Piet Oudolf Landscapes in Landscapes, and co-author of Planting A New Perspective. In 2003, he teamed up with garden designer Henk Gerritsen to write Dream Plants for the Natural Garden.
He has designed numerous high profile projects, particularly in Europe, the US and UK, including the current planting of the glasshouse borders at RHS Wisley and others such as the celebrated New York High Line, the Serpentine Gallery and Vitra HQ in the UK.
Judy Ling Wong CBE is an environmental activist and a strong advocate of greening poor quality urban spaces. She is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the field of ethnic participation in the built and natural environment, primarily through her role as Founder and Director of the Black Environment Network for 27 years, where she is now Honorary President. She champions planting for wildlife to increase biodiversity and works to enable all to have access to nature and equality of opportunity to environmental participation, especially in the urban environment.
Touching the lives of people who would not traditionally have access to nature, Judy Ling Wong has brought joy to countless lives, along with stimulating a desire to enhance and protect the natural world around them.
Established in 1913, on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become one of the world’s greatest showcases for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe.
Since its beginning, the show has gone from strength to strength. It has grown from 244 exhibitors in 1913 to over 500 today, including gardens, nurseries, floristry, educational displays and trade stands. Today the show attracts 168,000 visitors.
The Show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society which was founded in 1804. Queen Elizabeth II was their Patron for 70 years and regularly attended the show.