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January 25, 2010
London: Gardening tips from royal groundskeepers
For gardening enthusiasts like me, there’s nothing quite like England in the springtime. It’s as though the entire nation awakens from its long winter slumber and instantly transforms itself into a sea of vibrant green; lush gardens—large and small, formal and informal, public and private—are virtually everywhere you look.
In fact, London itself is home to no less than eight Royal Parks and gardens, all of which are lovely places to while away a balmy afternoon. Among them is St. James’s Park, my personal favorite, which consists of more than 58 well-manicured acres and provides picture-postcard views of nearby Buckingham Palace. The park’s Memorial Gardens are beautiful in late spring, when the more than 12,000 scarlet geraniums planted here—specially chosen to match the palace guards’ uniforms—are in full bloom.
For me, though, the best part of St. James’s is “the Allotment,” a special section that’s open to the public daily from May through October. This space is filled with vegetable plots and herb gardens—and staffed by friendly groundskeepers who freely offer advice to visitors about how we can make our own gardens grow. (Thanks to them, I now know how to cultivate produce fit for a queen!)
Have you been the recipient of any special advice—about gardening or any other subject—during your travels? If so, share your insights with me at
We’ll be spotlighting Egypt and Canada in future updates, so if you’ve explored these destinations with Grand Circle, I’d love to hear your stories—and see your pictures!