A themed floral display in the gardens of Kensington Palace will pay tribute to Queen Victoria during the 2019 bicentenary celebrations
Updated 2 July. Following government guidance, Kensington Palace is re-opening from 30 July. Read our visit information
To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace, this summer, its picturesque Sunken Garden will bloom with a special display created by Historic Royal Palaces gardeners. Plant species connected to the Victorian period - including heliotrope, canna, pelargonium and begonia - will feature in this seasonal summer display, as a tribute to the palace’s famed former resident for the 200th anniversary of her birth.
Visitors to the gardens will be treated to a rich colour palate of deep mauves, reds and oranges, all influenced by Victorian interiors, and reflective of the colours the young princess would have been surrounded by. The Sunken Garden itself dates back to 1908 and was modelled on a similar garden at Hampton Court Palace, celebrating a style of garden popular in the 18th century. This year’s scheme will be planted in May – to coincide with Victoria’s birthday on 24 May - for visitors to enjoy throughout the summer months, with all the plants grown in the Hampton Court Palace nursery by members of the Historic Royal Palaces Gardens and Estates team.
In addition to the riot of colour in the Sunken Garden, Kensington Palace will celebrate the wide variety of new plant species discovered during the monarch’s reign. Known as a golden age for gardening, the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented number of plant species identified, from the Chilean lantern tree to the Chinese fringe tree. From May, the Gardens and Estates team will showcase a selection of these species around the formal gardens for visitors to explore, all planted in heritage containers and accompanied by details about where each variety was originally found and who discovered it.
Even the famous statue of Queen Victoria in her coronation robes which has stood outside the East Front of the palace since it was designed by her daughter Princess Louise – herself a former palace resident - will also be marking the special occasion. The decorative pond that surrounds the statue will be filled with aquatic plants and enchanting marginals that will highlight and complement the iconic sculpture during this anniversary year. Finally, the bicentenary will be commemorated with a special floral illustration, delighting passers-by with Victorian-style carpet bedding formed of Sempervivum ‘Mahogany’, spelling out ‘200 years’.
Graham Dillamore, Head Gardener at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “In such a special anniversary year and with so much taking place inside Kensington Palace, we wanted our gardens to also celebrate the bicentenary of Queen Victoria’s birth. From special plantings popular during the Victorian era, to floral illustrations, we look forward to welcoming visitors to our beautiful formal gardens throughout the summer.”
Meanwhile, inside the palace, two new displays will be unveiled on 24 May, which would have been the monarch’s 200th birthday. The suite of rooms she and her mother occupied will be reimagined in an evocative and family-friendly exploration of life at Kensington in Victoria: A Royal Childhood, while a new exhibition entitled Victoria: Woman and Crown will consider the private woman behind the public monarch, and re-examine her later life and legacy.
Both Victoria: A Royal Childhood and Victoria: Woman and Crown will be included in standard palace admission, and free for Historic Royal Palaces members.
Notes to Editors
List of plant species on display in the formal gardens:
William Lobb (collected for Veitch’s Nursery)
* Crinodendron hookerianum (Chilean lantern tree), 1848
* Embothrium coccineum (Chilean fire bush), 1846
* Luma apiculata (Temu or Chilean myrtle), 1843
* Tropaeolum speciosum (Flame nasturtium), 1846
* Rhododendron fortunei, 1855
* Cyptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar), 1842
* Chionanthus retusus (Chinese fringe tree), 1845
Other Victorian plant introductions
* Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass), 1848
* Cornus kousa (Dogwood), 1875
* Trachycarpus fortune (Chusan Palm or Windmill Palm), 1844
* Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star jasmine), 1844
For further information and images please contact Sophie Lemagnen in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: [email protected] or telephone: 0203 166 6166.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk