Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Garden or Arboretum Team of the Year

Winner - Historic Royal Palaces' Hampton Court Palace gardens and estates team

Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court Palace gardens and estate

Historic Royal Palace's Gardens and Estates team manage the designed formal gardens around Hampton Court Palace, which are part of this scheduled ancient monument, and Home Park, a natural landscape with Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status. Headed up by Terry Gough, the team of 47 staff are organised into multi-skilled area teams and are exemplars in adopting horticultural and environmental best practice to conserve this historic landscape. Hampton's gardeners care for three National Collections of plants in the nursery and are often consulted by peers from gardens that are considering setting up collections. Trees in the formal gardens and Home Park are managed using a computerised records system, which records tree inspections and maintenance tasks. In fact Hampton embraces the latest technology to ensure its work is safe and efficient. A remote-controlled mower cuts the grass banks in the Privy Garden and a robot mower is being trialled in the moat this summer. In the Kitchen Garden, the team uses the no-dig technique championed by Charles Dowding.

The famous restored Privy Garden is an exemplary case study in historic garden management, where replacement plants and seasonal displays respect the garden's 17th century origins. Hampton Court's seasonal bedding plant displays are stunning - the palace's East Front garden's 46 display beds are planted with vibrant bedding displays each summer and spring that reflect their Victorian heritage.

Coupled with best practice is an exceptional commitment to delight and engage with their many visitors. Examples of this engagement are seen in an increasing number of garden-related events, tours, managers that encourage gardeners to interact with visitors and ever-improving garden interpretation. Upskilling the gardens and estates staff of 47 is a strong management commitment.

All garden's staff have access to a wide range of external and internal training and development opportunities, which go far beyond the statutory minimum. This training contributes to refining horticultural best practice and enhancing visitor engagement and garden promotional activities, such as blogging.

A new mission statement, or cause, is being launched at Historic Royal Palaces, intended to make the palaces an even more inclusive, engaging and exciting visitor destination. The new cause is being rolled out to garden staff in a series of interactive workshops. Digital communication with visitors is developing fast and HRP's digital team is working with our gardeners to produce gardens content for magazine articles, blogs, videos and social media posts.

The Gardens and Estates teams also consults or informs its many stakeholders - including visitors, HRP members, site neighbours, other HRP teams, visiting fellow professional gardeners and relevant public organisations, such as Historic England and Natural England - about any initiatives to conserve, improve and develop this exceptional garden and estate.

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