Buckingham Palace Gardens are a truly special place. They will continue to be open for visits and for garden parties with the King. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the gardens a few times. Each time, I’m constantly astounded by the upkeep of this beautiful space in the heart of London.
It’s an incredibly famous garden, but we all have gardens that mean something to us. Even the Queen who had a passion and love for plants, it was formidable. She planted over 1,500 trees herself, all over the world, which is remarkable. I know some very hardened landscapes that have been in the business for years that have never accomplished that amount.
Meeting Queen Elizabeth II
I had the privilege of meeting Queen Elizabeth II three times at Chelsea Flower Show. The show has been running for 110 years and the Queen visited over 50 times. So she was there for nearly half of them. The respect, and the knowledge of plants was something very important to her.
Back in the 80s, I had met the Queen Mother at Chelsea, and she was so kind to me, chatting to me just like my Gran. So, although I was a little nervous this experience, put me at ease when I had the honour of meeting Her Majesty the Queen.
The knowledge and enthusiasm about plants was something that took me quite off guard. In a very short period of time, rather than the Queen and myself, a designer, talking, it was just two enthusiastic gardeners sharing stories. Then, during our first meeting, I was put off by a loud noise. It turned out to be Concorde flying right overhead. The Queen said, ‘When I’m in Windsor, I can almost set my watch to Concorde, it’s always on time.’ I told her I’d never been on it, and she told me that I must, that it’s marvellous. I only wish that I had the chance to fly on Concorde, but it was decommissioned before I had the chance. But that moment, the Queen had shared with me was something that more than made up for it.
Queen Elizabeth II and nature
We all know that looking out onto greenery has a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. To be connected with plants that mean something to you is an incredible feeling. The Queen would have seen the gardens continue to grow, at Balmoral, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle amongst the many other gardens under her purview. In some cases, plants become much more than just the beauty of their leaves and flowers. I believe that they become friends as well. So, for the Queen to be able to spend time, especially her last summer at Balmoral would have been incredibly comforting to her.
The flowers on top of the Queen’s coffin as she left Balmoral for the final time were from the garden at Balmoral. Her love of this place and the plants that were grown there now travel with her on her final journey. It’s this connection with plants that even at the end remains unbroken.
That’s really the magic of gardens. The knowledge and interaction with nearly all of the Royal Family and plants has been incredibly uplifting for me and everybody else who works in the horticultural industry.
As well as Buckingham Palace and Balmoral, Sandringham, Castle of Mey, and Osborne House all have a connection with the Royal Family and are all open to visitors.
Visiting these and seeing the beauty of the plants that have been enjoyed by members of the family over quite a period of time is something that is very special.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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