Between 2014 and 2018, memorial gardens will be built in symbolically important places. The gardens are landscaped using soil from Flanders Fields, as a way to honour and commemorate everyone who fought and died during the war. In addition, each memorial garden represents a symbol of peace, reconciliation and the hope for a better future. For this initiative the Government of Flanders works together with foreign partners.
The first memorial garden opened in London on the 6th of November 2014. For this garden, school pupils from 70 Flemish schools, together with British pupils, collected soil from 70 Commonwealth cemeteries in West Flanders.
Each sandbag carries the name of the cemetery where the soil was taken from. The sandbags were displayed at the In Flanders Fields Museum. On 11 November, a special Last Post ceremony was held during which the 70 sandbags were gathered under the Menin Gate.
After that, they were transported on the Belgian frigate Louise Marie to London, where they will be the central feature of the first memorial garden. This memorial garden will be created at Wellington Barracks alongside the Guards Chapel which is adjacent to Buckingham Palace.
The garden is maintained by the Guards Museum.
On 4 April 2017 the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden in the Australian capital Canberra was officially opened. The gardens are landscaped with soil from the battlefields of Flanders Fields. It is a place to honor and to commemorate the fallen soldiers and at the same time a place of hope, peace and reconciliation.
More than 400,000 Australians – on a population of 6 million - competed in the First World War. 60,000 lost their lives. Every year on April 25th, ANZAC Day, Australia commemorates them. Also in Flanders there are annual memorial moments on this day. Which has made the ties between Australia and Flanders stronger over recent years.
The commemoration of the First World War, during the period 2014-2018, is of great importance to the Government of Flanders. These memorial gardens will keep the international attention for Flanders Fields as peace destination alive, even after 2018.
On 7 June 2017, the ‘Gathering of the Soil’ for the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden in Dublin took place at Wytschaete Military Cemetery in the presence of Prime Minister Bourgeois, British Crown Prince William, Princess Astrid and Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
There, Flemish school children gave boxes of earth of the cemetery to two Irish boys. That earth will be used in their land in a memorial garden. There are 1,000 soldiers buried in the cemetery, many of whom died in the Battle of the Mines, exactly 100 years ago.
The day before on June 6, the ground of the cemetery was put in the boxes by Flemish schoolchildren.