Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes

Calendar Girls' sunflowers to Felicity Kendal's sweet pea: the flowers that have helped us beat blood cancer

Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes
29 Jul 2013

There are many keen gardeners among our supporters and I thought you might be interested to know a little bit about the rich history Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has associated with gardening and flowers. Next time you're looking around at these flowers, think about how they have helped us over the years...

The Cleveand Brach Chairman with a flowerben planted in 1987 to celebrate our Silver Jubilee.


A forget-me-not poster from December 1972.

1. Forget-me-nots 

The forget-me-not in our logo has been associated with the charity since the very beginning. The Leukaemia Research Fund, as we were known back then, began in 1960 when a 6 year old girl called Susan Eastwood died from leukaemia. Her parents were determined to make something positive come from their personal tragedy and started fundraising for research that would find a cure. Their bravery and determination to remember Susan by creating a legacy that would make a lasting difference still inspires today.

Back then, the survival rate for children with leukaemia was less than zero. Today, thanks to the research you help us to fund, the survival rate for children is 90%. We have further to go, and people across the country still take part in forget-me-not walks and start their own tribute funds to remember people they have lost.

2. Sunflowers

When the Calendar Girls made their very first calendar to raise money in memory of John Baker, each photograph featured a sunflower which were John's favourite flower. From that day on, the sunflower has been a symbol of the Calendar Girls, featuring in the calendar each year, in the publicity for the 2003 film and in the stage show.

The Calendar Girls selling packets of Dwarf sunflower seeds at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show with Alan Titchmarsh.

3. Dahlias

Dahlias have been a popular fundraising flower for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. In 2010 Ken Stock gave people the chance to name this handsome dahlia in exhange for donations. The winning name for he Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Dahlia was 'Susie.' Just a few weeks ago Graeme Atkinson auctioned the chance to name a dahlia on ebay to raise funds in memory of his son Steven who died in heartbreaking circumstances.

'Susie' dahlia (left) and Lathyrus odoratus ‘Felicity Kendal’ Sweet pea (right)

4. Sweet peas

In 1990, The Good Life actor Felicity Kendal, CBE had a beautiful red sweet pea named after her. The photograph above shows her at the Chelsea flower show at the time. Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research benefited from every seed packet sold.

5. Ray of Hope Roses

Felicity Kendal was in the garden again in 1997, this time launching a special rose called the Ray of Hope, grown specially to mark the important work of the charity. The rose is, of course, bright red and was grown by James Cocker and Sons of Aberdeen, one of the UK's foremost rose specialists. The charity received £1.50 donation for every bush sold, and you can still buy this rose today

Felecity Kendal at the launch of the new rose with Rebecca Tredget from Kent, aged 8, who had been treated for leukaemia


Help us beat blood cancer with flowers.

If you're a keen gardener, why not check out some of the beautiful gardening products in our shop? Or, if you're not so green fingered, let someone else do the hard work growing the flowers and order a Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research bouquet. Clare Florist kindly donate 100% of the profits from this beautiful bouquet to help us beat blood cancer.

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