Hampton Court Palace is the holder of three important National Plant Collections – Heliotropium, Lantana and Queen Mary II’s Exoticks which is designated a Heritage Collection.
The Plant Heritage National Plant Collection® scheme awards National Plant Collection status to organisations who undertake to document, develop and preserve a comprehensive collection of one group of plants in trust for the future.
Heliotropium was the first of our plant collections to be designated a National Plant Collection® in 2000. There are 27 cultivars and two specie in the collection.
Heliotropium were first grown at Hampton Court in the 19th century for the new bedding plant displays in the Great Fountain Garden when the gardens were opened to the public. We still use our heliotropium collection in our bedding schemes today – look out for them in the summer.
Heliotropium is also known as the 'Cherry Pie Plant' as its small purple flowers smell of cherry and vanilla.
Hampton Court became National Plant Collection holders of Lantana in 2008. There are 37 cultivar and one specie in the collection.
This plant first appeared in Exotick collections in the 17th century. It is a fascinating plant as many cultivars have flowers that change their colour as they mature. Yellows become white and oranges turn purple - it is a real wonder of nature.
Look out for Lantana in our bedding schemes around the palace gardens in the summer.
Our famous collection of Queen Mary II's Exoticks is recognised as a Heritage Collection. Mary II (r1689-1694) had one of the largest private collections of plants in the world. She had plants imported from as far afield as the Mediterranean, Virginia, the Caribbean and Mauritius for display here at Hampton Court Palace.
Mary's collection comprised of 2000 different species and was so vast that she employed her own botanist, Dr Leonard Plukenet, to look after them. Mary's vast private collection contained 1000 orange trees, which were a symbol of William III's House of Orange dynasty.
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Parts of Mary's collection survived until the First World War, but a lack of gardeners led to the last plants dying out. Since 1987, our Gardens & Estate team have researched the specimens in Mary's collection and collected them once more through partnerships, both with local nurseries and British and European suppliers. There are 215 taxa in the collection.
This conservation collection has been re-created in the Orangery, Lower Orangery Garden and Privy Gardens at Hampton Court, displayed as they would have been in the late 17th and early 18th century.
Between June and September you can see the Exoticks, which include many types of citrus, along with aloes, agaves and lantanas and specimens of more obscure plants in the Lower Orangery Garden.