In Kew’s early days, Princess Augusta’s advisor on all things botanical, Lord Bute, lived in Cambridge Cottage. In 1772, King George III acquired it, and his sons Princes Edward and William moved in. Subsequent inhabitants were the first Duke of Cambridge (Adolphus Fredrick) after whom the garden takes its name, and the second Duke of Cambridge.
Kew acquired the cottage and land in 1904. The garden is called 'Duke's Garden' rather than 'Cambridge Cottage Garden' to avoid it being confused with a classic 'cottage garden'.
Things to look out for
Seasonal beds frame large, manicured lawns. One exhibits gold, orange and red plants, such as Hemerocallis 'Burning Daylight' or Lychnis chalcedonica. Another contains violet-hued plantings, and incorporates a lavender trail containing a variety of species and cultivars. Meanwhile, the ‘exotic bed’ is a testing ground for seeing just how hardy some tender plants are. This contains exotics such as tree ferns, ornamental bananas, cannas and gingers.
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.
Just outside the Duke’s Garden is the Duchess Border. As well as exhibiting an array of lavenders, the bed is used to test Mediterranean species for their hardiness in the south of England.