Letter to the Editor: Reminder of additional local connection to queens

Published 10:16 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

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To the Editor:

D.G. Martin’s recent column recognized two local ties to Queen Elizabeth I: The Lost Colony and the ship Elizabeth II at Festival Park. However, Martin overlooked another significant local connection to Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II, The Elizabethan Gardens.

The Elizabethan Gardens was established to honor the first Queen Elizabeth, who shared with her subjects the vision to see beyond the shores of England, to explore the New World, and to establish an English colony on what is now Roanoke Island. In 1937, The Lost Colony outdoor drama was established at the site believed to be that of the first English settlement.

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In 1952, women from the Garden Club of North Carolina who had seen this drama conceived the idea of establishing a garden adjoining the theatre using the principles of Elizabethan-era design. Thus, The Elizabethan Gardens was born as a memorial to the 117 original English colonists to the New World and their Queen.

Queen Elizabeth II recognized the significance of Roanoke Island in 1984 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of English explorers. Anne, Princess Royal, traveled to North Carolina and represented Queen Elizabeth II at the celebration, reflecting the Queen’s interest in the exploration and colonization of the Island.

Princess Anne was interested in the history as well as the design of The Elizabethan Gardens. She was given a tour of the Gardens by the head gardener Louis Midgette, Sr., and later sent seeds to him for the Herb Garden. When the Gardens established a Rose Garden, we received the gift of a Queen Elizabeth Rose from Buckingham Palace which has thrived in our formal walled garden ever since.

In 2022, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of The Elizabethan Gardens, which coincided with the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne. We were pleased to have members of the North Carolina chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire with us. They planted an oak tree in honor of the Queen’s reign. Aptly, the tree is a hybrid of our native white oak and the English “Crimson Spire.”

While many Americans mourn the loss of the Queen, those of us who protect and maintain The Elizabethan Gardens also celebrate our “special relationship” to Queen Elizabeth I and II.

Betsy E. Brown, Secretary
Board of Governors
The Elizabethan Gardens