A behind-the-scenes look at a year in the life of the Queen’s garden

The Rose Garden at Buckingham Palace
The Rose Garden at Buckingham Palace

The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is the subject of a new behind-the-scenes book.

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns a 512ft (156m) herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake.

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden

It also reveals that the monarch receives a seasonal posy, made from the garden’s blooms, every Monday when she is in residence.

The tradition began in 1992 and half a dozen fresh flowers, chosen by the Queen’s Royal Florist, are placed in a vase on the Queen’s writing table each week.

In winter, as an alternative to flowers, the posies feature a mix of evergreen leaves and colourful berries.

A winter posy

In the summer, sweet peas are often used, taken from the 15 sweet pea wigwams in the herbaceous border.

The Palace’s head gardener, Mark Lane, shares his tips on how he cares for the garden throughout the year.

Some 24,000 guests usually traipse over the grass in the summer during the Queen’s three garden parties, leaving the lawn in need of repair.

Garden Party at Buckingham Palace

But the coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of all the gatherings in both 2020 and 2021.

The lawn has to be mown weekly as soon as the grass starts growing in the spring to keep it at the right height, and the edges are painstakingly clipped to add precision.

Stripes are created in formal areas of lawn using a mower with a built-in roller to help lead the eye and make the garden or lawn look larger, as well as framing the flower borders.

A member of the gardening team at Buckingham Palace

There are more than 1,000 trees in the central London garden, including 98 plane trees, 85 different species of oak and 40 different types of mulberry tree.

The Royal Collection Trust’s Buckingham Palace Gin is infused with botanicals collected from the garden, including lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves.

The rose garden contains 25 beds of roses, with each one planted with 60 rose bushes of a different variety.

A member of the royal gardening team deadheading roses in the Rose Garden

No two adjacent beds are of a similar colour.

There are also 200 different varieties of camellias in the garden.

The lake features a waterfall and a secluded island which acts as a haven for wildlife.

The garden\u2019s waterfall

Over the years, many resident kings and queens have appreciated the garden’s spring flowering shrubs and trees.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Queen’s mother and father, George VI and Queen Elizabeth oversaw the planting of magnolias, cherries and camellias, many of which still thrive today.

Queen Victoria noted in her diary in May 1843: “It was so fine in our pretty garden, with all the azaleas & rhododendrons out.”

The Palace garden\u2019s 156m -long Herbaceous BorderPalace_ A Royal Garden_ReferenceImage_m15290

In April 1844 she wrote of “all the lilacs coming out & the apple trees loaded with blossom”.

In 1762, Queen Charlotte established a menagerie in the garden, including an elephant, monkeys and one of the first zebras ever seen in England.

– Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, by Claire Masset, will be published by the Royal Collection Trust on April 13 2021, priced £14.95 from Royal Collection Trust shops and and £16.95 from bookshops.

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