Capel Ladies Club members were very excited about their April speaker, Mark Lane, who was coming to talk to us about The Royal Gardens. BUT – as we found out – there are TWO Mark Lanes, both highly accredited in the gardening sphere. One is the first wheelchair garden designer who also presents “Gardener’s World” from time to time and the other is the Queen’s Head Gardener at Buckingham Palace. Who knew? I think we had all assumed it would be the Gardener’s World Mark Lane, and so when our Chairlady Di Barker and her husband went to collect Mark Lane off the evening train from London prior to the meeting they were looking for a man in a wheelchair! Misunderstandings corrected, and laughed over, OUR Mark Lane arrived in the Library to give his talk, having come straight from work especially to speak to us, and charging us nothing but the price of his train ticket!
He spoke in a very relaxed style, telling us about the history of the 39-acre garden at Buckingham Palace, and showing photos of the different areas of landscape and planting. There is a large five-acre lawn where the Garden Parties are held, a three-acre lake and a large wildflower area, plus a huge herbaceous border, a rose garden and extensive vegetable plot growing organic produce. The Palace is self-sufficient in its own honey too, having several beehives. There are nearly 500 mature trees and a very comprehensive plant collection. Mark has been Head Gardener at the Palace for over thirty years, and he also oversees the gardens at Clarence House, home to the Prince of Wales. A total of only eight gardeners are employed at these two places which seems surprisingly few as they are kept very busy throughout the year with all the many functions, open days and exhibitions held in the grounds. The Palace grounds are home to many types of wildlife, which bring their own sets of problems – for example large flocks of greylag and Canada geese live by the lake, and of course create a lot of mess which needs to be continually cleared up.
At the end of Mark’s illustrated and interesting talk he answered a number of our questions before leaving to catch his train back to London.