Windsor Castle’s East Terrace Garden, where the Queen grew vegetables to help the war effort, will open to the public this weekend for the first time in decades.
The formal gardens, which were created by George IV in the 1820s, will welcome visitors who want to view the open space’s manicured lawns, colourful flowerbeds and sculptured topiary.
During the Second World War the gardens were dug up to grow produce and the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and her sister Princess Margaret were each assigned a small site to cultivate tomatoes, sweetcorn and dwarf beans.
Richard Williams, Windsor Castle’s learning curator said about the gardens: “Well, it’s been a great favourite for members of the royal family for just coming up to 200 years which is when it was first laid out by George IV.”
Mr Williams told BBC Breakfast: “Queen Victoria had a great affection for it because her husband Prince Albert took part in laying out the design for it.
“And it also has a significance for Her Majesty the Queen, because during the war years the whole garden was dug up in order to grow vegetables, and the then young Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret had their own individual plots to grow vegetables for the war effort.
“And I suppose the other significance for the Queen is that in 1971 it was the Duke of Edinburgh who effectively designed the garden as we see it today, with the flower beds and the beautiful fountain at the centre.”
The East Terrace Garden was first designed for George IV by the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville between 1824 and 1826, to provide a pleasant view from the king’s new suite of royal apartments along the east front of the castle.
It was created on the site of an old bowling green, made for Charles II in the 1670s, with plants imported for the grand project including 34 orange trees sent by France’s monarch Charles X.
Victoria wrote in her diary about Albert’s efforts organising the layout of the open space: “Albert is daily occupied… in superintending the planting of the garden in the inside of the Terrace.
“The plots were before so scrubby & scraggy, but are now being very nicely arranged with laurustinus, bays…”
In 1971, Philip redesigned the flowerbeds and commissioned a new bronze lotus fountain based on his own design for the centre of the garden, and a few years later public access was stopped.
Today it features clipped domes of yew and beds of 3,500 rose bushes planted in a geometric pattern around the duke’s central water feature.
The East Terrace Garden is included with an admission to Windsor Castle on weekends in August and September, starting this Saturday.
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