Wanted: stone cottage with a modest backyard…

Here is my first of several posts from gardens afar! Dave and I are in London for a bit over a week’s time. In a couple of days he will be off to attend his conference and I will, alas, STILL be on vacation.  After a stressful hiccup with our hotel arrangements we focused on  seeing the sights, deciding we could always sleep on any one of many very lovely park benches if need be.

We rode the London Underground from our temporary housing in Kensington to the Green Park station on our way to see what the other Queen has been doing in her house and garden.  Green Park is a lovely tree shaded city park with a well worn path leading right to her front gate. Even at 9 am the park had a number of family groups with their blankets spread out enjoying the start of a beautiful sunny day.

Clearly Queen E. was not expecting us as she had decamped to her summer residence in Balmoral, Scotland.  Luckily for us her absence from the palace during August and September each year gives the rest of us a chance to peek into the royal life.  Our tour was to include the Buckingham Palace State Rooms and a special exhibit called Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe. Although her interior decor is bit heavy on the gilding for my personal tastes, I can’t fault her taste in art and furnishings.  Great area rugs and lovely upholstery throughout! The exhibit of her clothing, which included a generations old christening gown (the one worn by the most recent royal baby), her wedding gown, coronation gown, and selection of special outfits from each decade since the 1920s, was captivating. Especially fun was the millinery collection featuring favorite looks over the years and introducing us to the designers who have served her under what are called Royal Warrants–in other words, hatmakers to the Queen. So sorry, Buckingham Palace allows no photography inside.

I was disappointed to learn that the Garden Highlights tours sell out within days of the new season’s ticket availability.  I did learn that Queen Elizabeth hosts over 8,000 of her countrymen/women at a series of garden parties each year in her 40 acre backyard. The Buckingham Palace gardens were not open to the public until 2008 when the August and September tours were initiated to raise funds for their upkeep. The gardens include a lake, a helicopter landing area and over 350 species of flora. The State Room tour ends in the the Bow Room which overlooks the broad back lawns so we did get a few glimpses of the south side of the garden as we exited. Have a look:

Looking back as we were walking down the south side exit
Small view of the 3 acre lake–a serene spot
Wide swathes of ten foot tall Oak Leafed Hydrangeas
Gigantic mop-head Hydrangeas finishing their summer

Can’t help but think the huge colonies of anemones and ferns were just a teaser as to what the larger herbaceous borders would look like.  I’ll leave you with this last photo–maybe a glimpse into a side of Queen E. we just don’t hear about.  This was taken on the edge of the lake which is quite close to the path leading to the exit.

How do I get an invitation to one of these garden parties?

NEXT UP: The Pharmacist and the Physic

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