The Queen has welcomed the planting of the UK’s first rose named after a black gardener as she said she hoped visitors to Buckingham Palace’s gardens “reflect on what the rose represents for many years to come”.
The yellow John Ystumllyn rose was planted in the palace rose garden on Monday morning by community gardening groups from across the UK.
John Ystumllyn, who died in 1786, was one of Britain’s first black gardeners.
After arriving from west Africa to be a servant in Gwynedd, North Wales, at the age of eight, he went on to work as a gardener and became a respected horticulturist. His marriage to Margaret Gruffydd is believed to be the first interracial marriage in Wales.
The rose was created by We Too Built Britain, a campaign group that aims to tell the stories of under-represented people in the UK. It represents the values of friendship and community, and was designed as a reminder of how gardening can bring people together.
It was presented to Claire Midgely-Adam, deputy gardens manager at Buckingham Palace, by Zehra Zaidi, the group’s founder.
The rose is accompanied by a plaque explaining its origins, for members of the public attending events such as Garden Parties and DofE Gold Award Celebrations to enjoy and reflect upon.
The Queen said: “I am pleased that the John Ystumllyn rose is being planted in the Buckingham Palace Gardens today.
“The rose has been bred as a mark of friendship and community, and I hope guests and visitors to the garden will have the opportunity to reflect on what this rose represents for many years to come.”
The John Ystumllyn rose was bred by Harkness Roses in Hertfordshire, which provided 5,000 free John Ystumllyn roses to community garden schemes across the country in recognition of the importance of gardening to mental health during the pandemic.
Representatives from those schemes invited to the planting included individuals from Cyngor Tref Criccieth Town Council Community Garden, where Mr Ystumllyn lived, Growing Together Levenshulme, Touchpoint Stansted Community Hub, Grow for Talgarth, Clay Farm Community Garden, Strawberry Hill House Community Garden and The Ubele Initiative.
The rose will be formally presented for the first time at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.