Take a closer look at Hampton Court Palace's historic herb garden

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Great gardens: Well worth a look Great gardens: Well worth a look

A garden fit for royalty has been restored to its former glory after Hampton Court Palace re-opened the gates to its regal kitchen garden.

The kitchen garden served kings and queens at the palace for 160 years and was originally created for William and Mary in 1689, before Queen Victoria shipped all of the London kitchen gardens to Windsor when she came to the throne.

After a stint as private plots for businesses until the 1930s, when it was turned into a bowling green, the garden has been restored to its original and sole purpose.

Royal kitchen gardener Vicki Cooke has been working on the revival of the garden that served the royals of Britain across two centuries.

With a background in heritage vegetables, the garden guru has overseen the introduction of about 220 different crop varieties and historical vegetables in the garden.

She says: "There has been so much interest, especially from locals who use the garden all the time.

"It is great to see so much productivity in the garden - it has been really important to have it not only looking beautiful but also being a productive space.

"We tried to grow quite a lot of unusual things that people might not recognise any more."

The acre plot in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace has not been used as a garden for about 100 years, so returning it to its former use was an ambitious and worthwhile project.

Visitors can walk through vegetable beds and marvel at fruit trees, herbaceous borders and the perhaps forgotten or unheard of crops such as purslane and orach.

The garden was officially opened by Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, last week as Historic Royal Palaces celebrated the restoration project.

Visitors can learn about the unique history of food production at the palace, while displays will demonstrate methods used to provide food sources for kings and queens.

It is hoped the garden can become a marketplace for people to buy fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables from the royal space.

Gardener Vicki says: "Hopefully people can buy some really fresh local produce and taste the history as well as see it."

The kitchen garden is free to visit.

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