Duke's Garden - one of Kew's hidden gems

This tranquil walled garden becomes a sea of colour at this time of year.

30 Jun 2010

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Duke's Garden

Duke's Garden (Image: Richard Wilford, RBG Kew)

The Duke's Garden, hidden behind high walls, is often overlooked by visitors but is certainly worth a visit. Formerly the private garden for Cambridge Cottage, in 1904 it became part of the Royal Botanic Gardens and was opened to the public. Several alterations were made to the original layout and the Duke's Garden continues to evolve, incorporating new features and plants. Mainly a decorative area, the only collection in this garden is the Lavender Species Collection, which is planted along the Duchess Border running the length of the outer wall.

Duke's Garden

The Duke's Garden is the kind of garden you could do at home... if you had the time, space, and could afford a full time gardener! Filled with many cultivars and hybrids along with species, it is fairly labour intensive, requiring constant weeding. At this time of year, however, the hard work has paid off and velvet lawns set off the luxuriant and colourful beds of achilleas, alliums, delphiniums and salvias perfectly.

With the advance of climate change, and the need for gardeners to be more economical with water use, Kew has created a ‘Gravel Garden’ within the Duke’s Garden. Sponsored by Thames Water, this contains plants that are drought tolerant. Growing beneath the shade of a large American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) are nerines from South Africa (Nerine bowdenii), euphorbias (Euphorbia myrsinites) and wand flowers (Dierama pulcherrimum) and other plants that thrive in warm, arid conditions.

So go beyond the walls and venture into the garden you've always wanted to have!

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