When I’ve been to Hampton Court before I’ve spent my whole time looking at the palace, with just a perfunctory glance at the gardens. I’ve always known I was missing out, so I was determined to go on a visit just to the gardens, to give myself time to see them all (and there are plenty to see) and really appreciate them. I was very glad I did, as they are quite stunning.
I started with the rose garden, which is lovely and immediately made it into my list of top five rose gardens in London.
It’s a walled garden, with formal beds set amongst green lawns and classical statuary in the centre.
Rambling roses amble across the walls behind inviting benches.
Beyond the rose garden is the kitchen garden, which not only produces vegetables but has some rather lovely flower beds as well.
Next comes the wilderness garden, which is where the maze is if you fancy getting lost. I didn’t, so I went on through to the gate leading to the formal gardens.
I’m a bit of a fan of herbaceous borders, and I have to tell you that Hampton Court has one of the best I’ve seen. It was planted in the 1920’s and claims to be the longest in the world.
It is certainly one of the loveliest.
I spent so long admiring the herbaceous borders that I hardly noticed I was in the Great Fountain Garden, originally a parterre with thirteen fountains. Only one of the fountains remains but the clipped yew trees, planted by Queen Anne, form an impressive backdrop to the formal flower beds.
Next comes the baroque Privy Garden on the south side of the Palace, designed by William III.
Then a pretty little knot garden (I’m sort of collecting knot gardens at the moment) and the two formal sunken gardens, the Pond Gardens.
The Orangery Terrace leads to the glasshouse housing the great vine.
By this time I’d walked the whole way around the Palace and it would have been nice to have completed the circle and come out in front of the Palace entrance again, but there didn’t seem to be any way to do this, so I circled back and ended my visit with a cup of tea in the Tiltyard next to the kitchen garden and a final look at the rose garden.
If you want to visit Hampton Court Palace gardens, the palace is a half hour train ride from Waterloo. Entrance to the Rose Garden and Kitchen Garden is free, but there is a charge of £5.80 to visit the formal gardens.