England's Kings Were Gardening Fiends

Few can craft a topiary or fashion a yew maze with the zest and perfection of the British royals.
pond garden hampton court

Pond Garden

One of the two pond gardens at the Hampton Court Palace Gardens outside London.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

One of the two pond gardens at the Hampton Court Palace Gardens outside London.

Few people garden with the zest and perfection of the British, with their exquisitely trimmed boxwoods and their wisteria draped poetically over entryways. No matter how small the courtyard or front stoop, the immaculately landscaped homes of London are evidence that green will prevail where there is a will. Front stoops are ornamented with boxwoods formed into bowling ball forms, flowers bloom from window boxes and even the most space-starved Londoner will find a way to grow peppers or some form of kitchen garden indoors.

Laying the groundwork for that gardening zeal were England's royals as seen in one of the country's crowning botanical achievements, former home to Henry VII and Anne Boleyn Hampton Court Palace Gardens.  Over 60 acres of weepingly beautiful landscape demonstrate the royals' desire to bring exotic plants like sago palms, prickly pear and agave back home—where it still lives in vast wooden containers that can be transported to greenhouses in the winter—and to create graceful, colorful gardens for promenading.

A staff of just 40 maintain the 750 acres, and 60 acres of formal gardens at Hampton Court including lush herbaceous borders filled with sedum 'Matrona', heuchera 'Purple Palace' dahlia 'Magenta Star' and 'Small World' an Elizabethan knot garden, a yew maze and pathways lined with massive azalea bushes and fragrant lilac.

Click here for more information about Hampton Court and here for more information about European horticultural tours.

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