Today is Victory in Europe Day, usually referred to in France as 8 mai. It's a public holiday, to celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe and to remind ourselves why the European Union matters. There will be a ceremony at all the war memorials in the country. I thought today would be a good time to pay a little tribute to the gardeners who care for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemeteries all over the world.
Initially it was hoped that plants indigenous to the countries of the fallen would be used, in order to enhance the connection between the deceased's place of rest and his place of origin. In practice this turned out not always to be possible, and so far as I can tell (having checked the list provided on the excellent CWGC website) no Australian plants are used in Europe. Nevertheless, plants are carefully chosen to soften the rows of headstones and provide a rain splash filter but not obscure the inscriptions. In addition, the Commission wanted visitors to feel at ease and that they were in a place of beauty and peace, rather than somewhere eerie and frightening. In France, the graves and gardens are set in lawn, emphasising the garden atmosphere.
You can read more about the Commission's approach to gardening in the cemeteries on their website.