A cutting from one of St Helena’s endemic plants formed part of a wreath that stood out among the hundreds laid at the base of The Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday, 2012.
Old Man Live Forever was one of the plants used in the wreath laid by Foreign Secretary William Hague, in honour of those from the UK’s overseas territories who gave their lives in conflict. St Helena ebony and boxwood was also used, along with scrubwood from the “St Helena dependencies”.
The green wreath of the overseas territories, now a traditional feature of the ceremony in Whitehall, is only one of the major wreaths not to feature bright red poppies – the symbol of Remembrance.
Eighteen flowers from Gibraltar and British islands around the world are used in the wreath.
They are cut from the collections at Kew Gardens by horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena. He has used a different arrangement every year for the past decade.
He actually makes two identical wreaths. One is transported to the Foreign Office in King Charles Street on the morning before the ceremony.
The second acts as a reserve in case the first gets damaged or if any of the flowers wilt. If not required, the spare wreath is laid at the war memorial at Kew Gardens.
While Mr Hague was paying his respects in London, watched on television by millions, a large crowd was doing the same at St Helena’s own Cenotaph, on the seafront.
Governor Mark Capes laid the first wreath of white flowers – “the Colony’s Wreath”. Others were laid for the French Republic, the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force, the Merchant Navy, the St Helena Police Force and the St Helena Fire Service.
Members of the public laid their own floral tributes.
The Service concluded with the traditional March Past outside the Supreme Court.