This blood-red lava flow of poppies is in honour of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who perished in that war. Poppies will be gradually added over the summer and fall, and the last poppy will be ’planted’ on November 11, symbolically marking the end of WWI. The Tower of London poppies will then be sold for £25 to raise money for charities linked to the Armed Forces.

The red flowers echo in the collective memory of many nations who participated in these terrible battles, but the most famous reference belongs to Canadians, reverberating in the words of Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Parts of his poem, In Flanders Fileds, were used in propaganda efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling war bonds. The reference is to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers, thus becoming an enduring and universal symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict.

''In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.''

John McCrae (May 3, 1915)