Weekly flowers and rewilding: Secrets of the Queen's Buckingham Palace garden revealed

·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: The Queen and Prince Harry host public at Buckingham Palace garden party

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The Queen has a seasonal bouquet of flowers made for her every week when she is in residence at Buckingham Palace, a new book has revealed.

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden charts a year in the gardens that surround the most iconic royal residence in London, with head gardener, Mark Lane sharing his tips on caring for plants throughout the seasons.

The book also shares that the Queen has a seasonal posy made for her every Monday when she is at the palace, where she usually spends most of the working year.

The posy is delivered to her writing desk each week, keeping up a tradition that started in 1992.

In winter, it usually consists of evergreen leaves and colourful berries. In summer, the posies include sweet peas taken from the 15 sweet pea wigwams in the herbaceous border.

The palace garden is probably best known as the venue for the annual parties which the Queen holds to thank people from all walks of life for their service to charities and organisations across the UK.

About 24,000 guests usually enjoy an afternoon tea on the lawn, which in the spring is mowed weekly into stripes to make it look bigger, and to draw the eye to the surrounding borders.

Unfortunately the events had to be postponed in both 2020 and 2021, with the guests for 2020 expected to attend in 2022, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For single use only in connection with Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of a winter posy created for Queen Elilzabeth II featuring a mix of evergreen leaves and colourful berries taken from the Buckingham Palace garden. The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is subject of a new behind the scenes book, Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, which charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns, a 156-metre herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake. Issue date: Tuesday February 23, 2021.
A winter posy created for Queen Elilzabeth II featuring a mix of evergreen leaves and colourful berries taken from the Buckingham Palace garden. (Royal Collection Trust)
For single use only in connection with Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of Buckingham Palace viewed from across the garden's 3.5 acre lake. The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is subject of a new behind the scenes book, Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, which charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns, a 156-metre herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake. Issue date: Tuesday February 23, 2021.
Buckingham Palace viewed from across the garden's 3.5 acre lake. (Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021/John Campbell)

Read more: Relaxed security, excellent sandwiches and a Queen close-up: What a Buckingham Palace garden party is really like

But the garden is also Her Majesty's private outdoor space, and it has an impressive number of plants and flowers.

The garden has more than 1,000 trees, including 98 plane trees, 85 different species of oak and 40 different types of mulberry tree.

Some of the plants help make Buckingham Palace gin, which is infused with lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves all from the gardens.

There are 25 beds of roses in the rose garden, each one planted with 60 rose bushes of a different variety. No two adjacent beds have a similar colour.

There are 200 varieties of camellias.

For single use only in connection with Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of the Rose Garden at Buckingham Palace in London. The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is subject of a new behind the scenes book, Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, which charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns, a 156-metre herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake. Issue date: Tuesday February 23, 2021.
The Rose Garden at Buckingham Palace in London. (Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021/John Campbell)
For single use only in connection with Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of a member of the gardening team at Buckingham Palace, London, tending to the lawns that are usually in need of repair after a busy summer of use for royal events. The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is subject of a new behind the scenes book, Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, which charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns, a 156-metre herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake. Issue date: Tuesday February 23, 2021.
A member of the gardening team at Buckingham Palace, London, tending to the lawns that are usually in need of repair after a busy summer of use for royal events. (Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021/John Campbell)

Although much of the gardens require an enormous amount of work for the gardening team, there is one area which is less pruned and preened.

Author Claire Masset reveals in the book that an island on the lake in the gardens is more overgrown, and helps provide a refuge for wildlife.

Pre-order it: Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden | £16.95 from Amazon

Also available at the Royal Collection shop, Waterstones and WHSmith.

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden
Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden

An extract from the book published in The Telegraph reads: "Even during Queen Victoria’s time the island [was] looked after differently from the rest of the garden.

"Wilder, shadier and generally more overgrown, it acted as a refuge for nesting birds.

“This remains true today. In fact, the island is now a rich and finely balanced ecosystem: an oasis within an oasis.”

For single use only in connection with Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of the waterfall, which helps to circulate water in the lake, in the Buckingham Palace garden in London. The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is subject of a new behind the scenes book, Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, which charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns, a 156-metre herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake. Issue date: Tuesday February 23, 2021.
The waterfall, which helps to circulate water in the lake, in the Buckingham Palace garden in London. (Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021/John Campbell)

The slightly humid environment means flora and fauna found on the island are different to that found in the rest of the garden - and a recent survey found a fungus had started growing which hadn't been recorded there since 1938.

A love of the outdoors and gardening has run in the Royal Family for many generations, and the appreciation for the Buckingham Palace garden is no exception.

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

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

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

For single use only in connection with Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, not to be archived, sold on or used out of context. Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Collection Trust of the cover of Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden. The secret of how the Buckingham Palace garden is kept so immaculate is subject of a new behind the scenes book, Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, which charts a year in the life of the 39-acre oasis, which boasts sweeping lawns, a 156-metre herbaceous border, wildflower meadows, a rose garden and a 3.5-acre lake. Issue date: Tuesday February 23, 2021.
The cover of Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden. (Royal Collection Trust)

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden, by Claire Masset, will be published by the Royal Collection Trust on 13 April 2021, available to buy for £16.95 from Royal Collection Trust shops and www.rct.uk/shop and bookshops.

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