Buckingham Palace opens gardens for public tours

The gardens at Buckingham Palace will be opened to the public for the first time next year.

Groups of up to 25 people will be able to tour London's largest private garden on selected dates during April, May and June 2009, at a cost of £20 per head.

Visitors will be taken along a 1.5km path around the 16ha garden, past the 5m-deep herbaceous border, a Wisteria-clad summerhouse and the rose garden.

A palace representative said: "This is the next in a series of initiatives aiming to broaden the scope of visits to the palace."

The garden was designed in 1825 by William Townsend Aiton, who was also in charge of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for George IV. One of his main features was the central lake, which is today fed by the palace's bore hole and provides cooled air for the Queen's Gallery.

More than 350 types of wild- flower and more than 150 mature trees are present in the garden, including rarities such as the Chinese chestnut tree Castanea mollissima and the Chilean jasmine Mandevilla laxa.

Bookings for the tours will be taken from 1 November.

- Call 020 7766 7333 to book.

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