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Back in thyme: a guide to our Tudor courtyard planting

Following extensive brickwork, mortar and clock tower restorations undertaken as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded project in the Tudor courtyard, the gardens team were tasked with planting the space to add the finishing touches.

The courtyard forms the grand entrance to the palace, through a low Tudor arch and leads directly into the heart of the palace. ‘Bloody’ Bishop Bonner’s interrogation victims would once have passed through the courtyard into the great hall. Now brides-to-be can enter the Palace under the newly restored watchful heads of Bishop and Mrs Howley above the entrance gate.

Head Gardener Lucy and volunteer Jamie have researched and sourced a range of historic Mediterranean-style plants that will be happy in the dry, sun-baked conditions of the courtyard. The plants all would have been grown around the Tudor times to reflect the Tudor period of that part of the building . The plants include Agave (used in tequila making), Rosemary (memory & headache), Thyme (stomach ache) and Sage (flatulence). Although I would not like to speculate as to whether the use of one would necessitate use of the others!

The team of volunteers have been busy planting, making sure to avoid the range of cables and pipes both ancient and modern that snake through the beds. This is one of the challenges of gardening on a historic site – you are never quite sure what lies under the surface and we proceeded with caution, with all plants in safely.

The following day we were able to complete the planting, and apply the final layer of mulch, leaving the Tudor courtyard, finished and ready for the grand opening of the Palace on 25 May and at the Tudor May Day on Sunday 26 May.

By Ellie Edmonds, garden apprentice
A woman kneels on the ground, planting small plants in the Tudor courtyard