Hampton Court Palace Gardens

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Anthony Boulder has a big backyard – trouble is, he has to share it with 500,000 people every year. The horticultural manager of Hampton Court Palace Garden near London explains: “I live on site, overlooking the glasshouse nursery . . . the whole palace gardens are my own garden in a way.”

Prepare to be dazzled by colour and history. Summer bedding plants bring a riot of colour and fragrance to the gardens – marigolds, fuchsias and heliotropes rule the formal beds, while the herbaceous and mixed borders spill over with phlox, asters and dahlias.

Don’t hurry a visit to Hampton – set aside a whole day on your itinerary to make the most of a visit to this palace. Green thumbs won’t be disappointed by the magnificence of these gardens, which comprise more than 240 ha (600 acres) of parkland, including 24 ha (60 acres) of formal gardens and Britain’s oldest hedge-planted maze. The number and diversity of plants is staggering – there are over 100,000 rose bushes, over 250,000 flowering bulbs, 33,000 box plants and recently reintroduced exotics such as aloes and agaves.

The oldest plant in the garden is the Great Vine, reputed to have been planted by one-time curator, Lancelot “Capability” Brown, around 1768. The oldest and largest known grapevine in the world, it produces an annual crop of 500 to 700 bunches of grapes, which are sold in the palace shops.

For more information about the Palace visit www.hrp.org.uk