royals-gardening

When green-fingered royals share a look into their gorgeous gardens

From Prince Charles to the Duchess of Cambridge...

Natasha Hornsby

With everyone who can working from home, we've had a sneak peak of some incredible living rooms and offices, especially from the royal family. And with the virtual opening of the Chelsea Flower Show last week, we've been reminded that they have some amazing landscaping ideas too. Here we take a look at some of the most memorable royal gardens, from Kate's child-centred garden at last year's flower show to the Queen's at Buckingham Palace, and Prince Charles's stunning home Highgrove.

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WATCH: Take a peek inside Prince Charles' Birkhall garden

The Duchess of Cambridge

Kate's exhibit at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show was dedicated to encouraging children and families to spend time together in nature. This year she shared a throwback shot of herself during the five days she spent working alongside designers Andree Davies and Adam White. Her garden, featuring a tree house, waterfall, rustic den and a campfire as well as tree stumps, stepping stones and a swing, got the ultimate seal of approve from Prince George and his siblings. Asked by William what mark he would give the play area, the little Prince replied: "Twenty out of ten."

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Kate's Back to Nature Garden at last year's Chelsea Flower Show 

The Duchess of Sussex

George's cousin Archie will most likely grow up getting dirt under his fingernails as Harry and William did, encouraged by their father Prince Charles, who loved nothing more than to be outside with them pointing out plants. While the Sussex family haven't yet settled on a permanent home in LA, outside their UK base Frogmore Cottage, Meghan's favourite pink peonies are in full bloom. And the eco-conscious couple are also said to have added a vegetable patch to be able to give their son organic food when they're this side of the Atlantic. "Growing up in southern California...I loved gardening and growing my own vegetables. That farm-to-table ethos was ingrained at such a young age," says Meghan.

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Meghan pictured at her old Toronto home

Prince Charles

The grounds of Highgrove, Charles's country home of 40 years, have actually been open to the public since 1994 as a way of raising funds for charity. The 15-acre terrain is a riot of colourful blooms, reflecting the royal heir's other passion, for watercolour painting. "His Royal Highness has a wonderful eye for colour; he's an artist," says head gardener Debs Goodenough. He also weeds and loves pruning. He enjoys being outside in the garden, which he knows inside out." Personal touches add to the charm – a summerhouse for reading, magical dells and a plaque commemorating Prince George's planting of a balsam poplar, which now stands over 30ft tall. Meanwhile, a bronze relief of the Queen Mother wearing her gardening hat and pearls is a tribute to the Prince's grandmother, who helped cultivate his horticultural passion.

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Prince Charles invites fans into Highgrove

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Thyme Walk features 20 varieties of fragrant herbs and two parallel rows of yew hedges, sculpted into eccentric shapes, such as a jester's hat and a Christmas pudding, topped by cream and a sprig of holly. The walled garden is a cornucopia of organic fruit and vegetables, some of which are sold in the shop onsite. Most enchanting of all is the Carpet Garden, inspired by a Turkish rug, with a riot of purple clematis surrounding a burbling fountain, encapsulating the Islamic ideal that a garden should be a paradise on earth.

Princess Diana's memorial garden

Princes William and Harry have many special memories of the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, which is why they gave their blessing to its transformation into a White Garden in memory of their mother. Twenty years after the People's Princess was lost to the world the plot was filled with predominantly white and cream flowers inspired by memories of Diana's life and style. These included William and Catherine roses, forget-me-nots and fragrant white roses. Among the design team was Graham Dillamore, who worked at the Palace during the Princess's lifetime. Her boys, who fed the koi carp in the central pond as children, couldn't have been more pleased with the results. "We're thrilled, Graham – 20 years on, it feels so appropriate," said William. Harry, of course, used the location to introduce the world to his beloved Meghan on the day of their engagement.

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Harry and Meghan posed for their engagement photoshoot in Diana's memorial garden

The Queen

Had she not been destined to be head of state, the Queen would have enjoyed life as a country lady pottering about amid dogs and horses. She's also extremely knowledgeable about plants and knows all their Latin names, says her friend Lady Elizabeth Anson. For her 90th birthday her friends gave her plants to redevelop the 35-acre garden at Frogmore House, which is bursting with tulip trees, redwoods and wisteria.

She also takes a close interest in the garden at Buckingham Palace, which is open to visitors during her annual summer parties. Viewers of a 2018 documentary by Sir David Attenborough also got a closer look at the 42-acre oasis of calm in the heart of London. The pair were seen inspecting each of the trees planted to mark the birth of Her Majesty's children. Other highlights are an ornamental lake, a summerhouse and the Waterloo Vase, a 15-foot stone urn fashioned from a single piece of Carrara marble, the name of which refers to the famous victory over Napoleon.

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David Attenborough and the Queen in the grounds of Buckingham Palace

The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson

At Le Moulin de la Tuilerie just 30 minutes away from Paris, the former King and his wife created a rural idyll where they welcomed visitors such as Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich, Henry Ford and Cecil Beaton. The mill, one of four in the village of Gif-sur-Yvette, looked onto a river, on the other side of which was a steep wooded slope, which the Duke described with his wry English humour as 'Cardiac Hill'. On the hill amid azaleas are the graves of Wallis's pug dogs, which she stipulated could never be moved by future owners.

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The couple pictured in their French country home

Her husband is thought to have consulted celebrated landscape architect Russell Page on the layout of the grounds. The clashing pink valerians, red celosias and blue delphiniums suggest that the one-time monarch liked his flowers the way he liked his women, fiery and striking. Even by the pool the royal heritage of their host was never far from visitors' minds: the emblem on the circular changing house for swimmers was a crown.