Flowers at the Tower: Tower of London moat to become sea of wildflowers for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

The Tower of London will transform its 13th century moat into a sea of wildflowers to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, bringing bees and birds flocking back to the capital.

The moat, which has previously been used as a medieval orchard, a grazing ground for Victorian livestock and allotments during the Second World War, will blossom into a “spectacle of nature” after 20 million carefully selected seeds are sown.

The planting scheme, which should result in millions of colourful flowers surrounding the Tower, is designed to attract pollinators and wildlife, and is the beginning of a permanent transformation of the moat into a natural landscape.

The “Superbloom” project, already nicknamed “Flowers at the Tower”, is dedicated to the 70-year reign of the Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year.

It is likely to delight the Queen, who has previously spoken of the joy she finds in trees and the great outdoors. She recently urged world leaders to come together to address climate change as their legacy for future generations.

“We are doing this not for ourselves but for our children and our children’s children, and those who will follow in their footsteps,” she said in a speech this month.

The wildflowers in the Tower of London moat are the first stage in a project to turn the 14,000 square metre area over to nature.

It is the second major Jubilee project to focus on the natural world, with Her Majesty’s admirers throughout the Commonwealth already encouraged to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee” in the Queen’s Green Canopy.

Its success relies partly on the British weather, with the right weather conditions and ground temperature for the flowers to grow and thrive.

The moat will include cornflowers, sunflowers, gyposphila, poppies, and pink cosmos, with other garden plants added to the native wildflowers to allow for taller planting schemes and colourful displays throughout the summer.

The design was selected for its simplicity, intended to capture the renewed solace the public found in nature during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In 1977, at the Silver Jubilee, the moat was used for a garden display. In 2014, to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, it was filled with 800,000 ceramic poppies in a moving commemoration.

“For the first time, a space built in the 13th century to keep people out of the Tower, will welcome visitors in,” a spokeswoman for Historic Royal Palaces said.

“From June 2022, it will be open every day for visitors to explore and see the spectacle of the ‘Superbloom’ close up.”

The exact mix of flowers has been adapted after several rounds of testing, to create the greatest improvement to biodiversity in the moat and its surrounding areas.

Cornflowers, sunflowers, gyposphila, poppies, and pink cosmos are among the wildflowers to be sown in the 13th century moat

Credit: Richard Lea-Hair

When the Superbloom display draws to a close in September 2022, the moat will remain as a natural landscape as a permanent tribute to the Queen.

Tom O’Leary, the public engagement director at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), said: “We’re thrilled to be bringing some joy, colour and spectacle to the Tower of London in 2022, in celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.

“Everyone at the Tower is looking forward to sharing the project with everyone as it develops – and hoping for some luck with the weather next spring!

“We hope that this thriving new landscape, surrounding London’s formidable fortress, will celebrate the power of nature to unite us all.”

The 20 million seeds will be sown in spring 2022, with a display “continuously evolving” from June to September.

Tower of London flowers

HRP will also host smaller floral Jubilee displays at Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace and Hillsborough Castle, and will invite school children to grow their own.

The charity is working with landscape architects Grant Associates and Nigel Dunnett, a “Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture” at the University of Sheffield.

Prof Dunnett said: “We hope that the effect of being surrounded by a sea of colourful, sparkling and vibrant flowers will release feelings of pure liberated joy in visitors to the Superbloom – it will be such a powerful, emotional and celebratory experience.

“We’ve undertaken a lot of testing and trials to ensure that we deliver dramatic and beautiful impressionistic blends of colours, a long and continuous sequence of flowering, and a wonderful place for pollinating insects.”

The project was first discussed in 2018, being considered as a more structured landscape garden by 2020 before moving into the idea of a wildflower meadow.

The Superbloom will be seeded in March 2022 and open in June 2022, but work to prepare for its installation has already begun this autumn.

Tickets for the display will go on sale from December 6, 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *