We are a team of 42 gardeners and specialists looking after 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of royal parkland at Hampton Court Palace. Most of the managers and team leaders began their careers as apprentices at Hampton Court or other Royal Parks. Six of us have worked here for over 40 years!
Working in 7 specialist teams concentrating on different areas, we are proud to look after the world's oldest puzzle maze, the world's oldest grape vine, Britain’s longest herbaceous border, 3 National Plant Collections, 15 glasshouses, some of the most magnificent historic gardens in the world and a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Home Park.
Look out for our new Gardeners’ Hut – a mobile exhibition travelling around the gardens, packed with interesting stories about our work in the gardens and some surprising objects!
The Nursery’s growing year begins with perennial wallflowers.
We are busy producing winter bedding with Bellis, Myosotis and Polyanthus. We’re also taking cuttings of tender perennials e.g. Abutilon, Heliotropium and Pelargonium.
Gardeners clear Cannas, Chlorophytum and Dahlias from the flowerbeds and rest them in the Nursery over winter. We move the smaller plants from the Exotick Collection back under glass.
Winter bedding is planted out. Larger Exoticks like Citrus plants come back to the glasshouses.
Some winter bedding is kept in reserve in case plantings fail. We wash and disinfect the empty glasshouses.
We order seed for summer bedding schemes and start sowing plants such as Eucalyptus which takes 6 months to grow. We pot on the perennial cuttings we took in August.
Cannas are split and potted in a warm glasshouse. If we’re short of any tender perennials we take extra cuttings.
We’re sowing seed weekly to stagger the task of pricking out seedlings. Some plants take several weeks to germinate. Others need pricking out 5-7 days after sowing.
Trays of plug plants start to arrive from specialist suppliers. Plug plants reduce some of our risk and cost in germinating seed and allow us to reach target plant numbers more accurately.
50 trays a week of plug plants are arriving and over 6000 seedlings need potting on each week.
The glasshouses are full and planting out begins by the third week of May. The Great Fountain Garden team leader orders the plants she needs from the Nursery and we pick them out and deliver them by tractor each day.
We’re delivering bedding plants every day throughout the gardens. By the middle of June all the Exoticks are outside in the Orangery Garden and Privy Garden Terrace. As the glasshouses empty, they are washed down and disinfected and the Nursery Team starts thinking about winter bedding again.
"Gardeners don't hibernate in winter", explains Terry Gough, Head of Gardens and Estates at Hampton Court Palace. In fact, the spring displays wouldn't exist without the work that happens during the winter months. Find out more in this video.