New head gardener for Osborne House

Toby Beasley has taken over from Prince Charles new gardener Debs Goodenough as head gardener at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

The former head gardener at Down House in Kent was responsible for the restoration and subsequent upkeep of the walled garden at Osborne, which opened in the summer of 2000.

Beasley's new role will be to develop the garden and wider estate in line with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's vision for the property.

Goodenough moved to Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate earlier this year.

Beasley said: "It's fantastic to be back at Osborne House. It's English Heritage's flagship garden and one of the top tourist attractions on the island. I'm really looking forward to gardening in such stately surroundings and with such a forgiving climate that the island offers."

Osborne House and Gardens were created between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, satisfying their desire for a family residence in the country. They wanted, to use the Queen's own words, 'a place of one's own, quiet and retired'. Prince Albert's love for everything Italian dictated the design and the popularity in England of Italianate villas in the mid-nineteenth century. Prince Albert and his art adviser, Ludwig Gruner, supervised the construction of the upper and lower terraces and a considerable quantity of earth was moved to achieve the present levels.

The valley was also remodelled to create the sweeping fall to the coast. The terraces had been grassed over in the mid twentieth century thereby abandoning the parterre designs of Prince Albert and Gruner.

English Heritage began restoring the terraces in 1994 and the parterres today are planted for spring and summer displays using historically correct bedding plants.

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