A special spring flower mosaic made of Dutch bulb flowers is currently on display at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. The mosaic was unveiled on 15 April and is named ‘Flags of Liberty’. It commemorates 70 years of liberation of Holland and is a Dutch thank you to the Allied Forces. The mosaic of 10 square meters and made up of 36,000 bulb flowers has been designed by Jan Guldemond, former head designer at Keukenhof. The bulbs were supplied by JUB Holland. The colourful display on the foot of the iconic Palm House depicts the British and Dutch flags flying in the wind, celebrating liberty. At the unveiling the flowers had just started to bloom and the display should be visible for the next few weeks for all visitors to Kew to enjoy.
On this beautiful spring day, the symbolic handover of the flower mosaic took place in colourful Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. Major (Rtd) Kenneth Mayhew (98) received from the Dutch Ambassador, Laetitia van den Assum, a beautiful bunch of Liberation Tulips as a symbolic thank you to all liberators. Major Mayhew is the oldest living carrier of the Military Willemsorde, the Dutch equivalent of the Victoria Cross. He received this honour for his role in the Liberation of Holland in 1944-45. The other veterans who attended, including Major (Rtd) Maurice Hewitt, who fought in Holland in WW II and a group of Chelsea Pensioners, also received a Liberation Tulip. Apart from the veterans there was also military representation from Holland, the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and Canada. Also the German Military Attaché was present to emphasize the importance of peace, liberty and reconciliation.
While the bulbs were steadily growing in Kew Gardens, the pupils of three local schools started working on a project around freedom and reconciliation. Pupils of the International School of London, Mount Sheen Primary School and the German School in Richmond attended themed lessons these inspired them for a compilation artwork that is on display in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew. This way the younger generations were involved and a group of pupils were present at the ceremony. It gave them a chance to talk to the veterans about their experiences first hand.
Ambassador Van den Assum emphasised in her speech the importance of reconciliation, how valuable freedom and peace are and how important it is to pass these on to future generations. She warned for the dangers of indifference. Richard Deverell, Director of Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, touched upon how Kew was affected during the Second World War and also the link between Kew Gardens and Holland. Music was provided by the Parachute Regiment Brass Quintet and the Nijmegen Compagnie Grenadier Guards provided the Guard of Honour.
The flower display in Kew is part of the Dutch Embassy project ‘Tulips for Liberators’. A second display has been planted in Lincoln, next to its historic cathedral. This mosaic has the title ‘Operation Manna’ and refers to the first airborne relief operation in the spring of 1945. The allied forces, led by RAF Bomber Command, dropped food parcels in the western part of Holland where the Dutch people were starving after a severe winter. Many of these relief flights were done from Lincolnshire. The commemorative flower display in Lincoln will be unveiled on Tuesday 21 April 2015.
About JUB Holland
The mosaics have been created in partnership with specialist bulb growers JUB Holland, who have provided the following varieties: Muscari aucheri ‘Blue Magic’; Muscari aucheri ‘White Magic’; Muscari botryoides ‘Superstar’; Tulipa ‘David Teniers’; Tulipa ‘Liberation’; Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’; Tulipa ‘Prinses Margriet’; and Tulipa ‘Seadov’, Tulipa ‘Willem van Oranje’ and Tulipa ‘Peach Blossom’
The Liberation Tulip was named in May 2014 in London by Major (Rtd) Mayhew. It is a yellow and red tulip grown by JUB Holland