MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hampton Court Gardens - 131 Pictures

  
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 Hampton Court Gardens were the final gardening stop in our May trip to Europe last year.
It's important to finish a trip on a very high positive note, isn't it?
 Hampton Court with its clipped trees as perfect exclamation marks was a wonderful choice for this mission. 

Located just 18 kilometers from downtown London, Hampton Court is easy to reach by train. Our short trip on the clean and almost empty train car was comfortable and pleasant. (How to get there).
The history of the place is very interesting: Henry VIII, William III, George II and others. There is enough good information about the history of Hampton Court Palace and Gardens on the internet, so I'll focus on the pictures.   
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More than Hampton Court Palace, I was interested in its Gardens.
I love different styles of gardening - cottage, oriental, and yes, formal.
My own garden is eclectic with some elements of formality. Geometry and structure help me to unite separate parts of my garden and give it some sense of peace and order.
I appreciate such features of garden formality as symmetry, balance, visible repetitive patterns,  straight lines, right angles, variety of geometrical forms such as ovals, circles, triangles, etc.
All the elements of the formal gardening please the eyes of Hampton Court visitors - trimmed  trees, shrubs and slipped hedges, topiary, classical urns, sculptures and fountains, gravel paths, expansive lawns, brick walls, lakes and canals, etc.
Hampton Court Gardens, being as formal as formal can be, include also luscious borders and flower beds that make them even more pleasant for the eye. 

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I love the monotonic beds of annuals punctuating the rolling expanses of grass.

Huge pyramidal yews (Taxus baccata) in the Great Fountain Garden look like giant chess figures on the perfectly mowed grass.  Planted along the paths leading to the palace they are icons of this place.

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Some of these trees are several hundred years old, and they saw several king and queens!
The younger trees were planted historically correctly in places where the original trees grew.
Altogether, there are about 8,000 trees in the Gardens and estate.

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Canals and lakes are also parts of formal gardens. But, water can not be too formal, can it? 
Birds, including those with nests, bring some sense of casual relaxation and peacefulness.  

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I like sudden bursts of color among the green.

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The yews are trimmed annually, but because of age, they don't look identical anymore. Each of them has its own character.

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The Great Fountain that gave the name to this part of the garden:

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The next picture reminds that there is a great effort behind the  impeccably looking grounds.

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The Broad Walk herbaceous border with its 580 meters is considered to be the longest in Britain.
Poppy, iris, allium were blooming in May. In summer, there are phlox, delphinium, dahlia, sedum, scabious and many others.
Annually, 200,000 flowering bulbs are planted in the formal gardens.

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The next garden we saw was the Privy Garden.

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The Privy (private) garden changed tremendously through time, but now it looks as in 1702.
"Much of the original layout of the Privy Garden was revealed through a
combination of archaeological and historical research during the 1995
restoration, which returned William III’s garden to its 1702 state. Historical
accuracy governed the design of the garden, from the elaborate broderie to the
very flowers and shrubs which once grew there. The Privy garden contains
33,000 box plants, topiary and Queen Mary’s Bower that survives from an
earlier Privy Garden by William III and Mary II.
 The Privy Garden was re-opened to the public on 6th July 1995 by HRH the
Prince of Wales, after four years of detailed research and restoration."
Source

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Interesting fact: Gardeners who worked here for William III, being afraid that they wouldn't be paid, recorded all their work in great detail. These records, together with historic garden plans and archaeological finds, helped considerably in the garden's restoration.
By the way, after the death of William III, they were never paid in full by Queen Ann. The same was true about the supplier of sculptures and the gate's maker.

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This 2-acre sunken garden has a symmetrical pattern and includes the original varieties of plants and marble sculptures from the garden of William III:

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Semi-circular wrought iron screen by Jean Tijou

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Boxwoods, yews and hollies are clipped in different shapes. In the past, they were also  shaped as people, centurions, sirens, French lilies,  etc.
In summer, there are flowers here, but even without them, the walk in the Privy Garden was pleasant.
We enjoyed viewing not only the plants, fountain and sculptures, but the shadows of a king and one of his lords themselves:

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Hornbeam Tunnel (Queen Mary's Bower)

Source; http://www.amazon.co.uk

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The Privy Garden originally was created for Henry VIII to provide him with some secure and relaxing time away from his state affairs.
Since there were very few people in late afternoon in May when we visited Hampton Court, it was easy to imagine his quiet walks along the gravel paths. It was a pretty good workout, too!

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Besides the Privy Garden, the Southern Garden includes Pond Gardens.
Ponds, which were used to provide fish for the royal kitchen, were drained long ago.
I loved the Pond Gardens. They are more intimate because of their smaller size and enclosure within brick walls.

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One of the walls was adorned by beautiful wisteria, and some terrace walls were under-planted by perennials.

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I love this small green fountain:

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It was May, and some borders were empty, but I saw pictures on the internet showing them bursting with color! This is one example:

Source

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Even without other, late-blooming, plants, this part of the gardens looked stunning with lovely pale forget-me-nots.

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The Orangery is seen in the next picture.

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The glass house in the next picture is the home of the famous Great Vine.
These are its leaves behind the glass:

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The grapevine is 247 years old!!!! And still producing grapes!
I take my hat off to the gardeners who used to care for it and care for it now!


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From the end of August until the middle of September, the grapes from the Vine are sold in the Palace stores.
What was intended only for kings, is available now for everyone.

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The trunk is more than 80 inches thick. The length of the vine is 100 feet.

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Back to the Privy Garden again.

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After the Gardens, we spent some time within the Palace.

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Kings loved sweets.  Consequently, there is a special Chocolate room here.

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Chapel Court Garden was opened in 2009 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of King Henry VIII's  ascension to the throne. The herbs and flowers were chosen from those which could grow in the gardens in the 16th century. The plant beds are surrounded by a green and white fence and posts. The posts are decorated with gilded heraldic beasts.

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In the Palace's store:

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The sign explained these beautiful table decorations:
'When the King dined publicly, he did it in style. For special occasions the dining table was dressed with starched linen intricately folded and shaped into heraldic beasts, vegetables and animals.
The incredibly skilled art of napkin folding was popular in the royal courts of  Germany.'

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These dresses are made from paper.

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Rose Garden

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I hope you enjoyed the walk.
*
Hampton Court Gardens  helped me to understand something important about my own garden.
I realized why I am not yet ready to part with our lawn and why I do love our clipped ilex hedges and boxwoods.
The contrast between formal and casual, quiet and rambunctious - this is what makes me excited.

***Copyright 2014 TatyanaS

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