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Garden of the Season – Palace of Holyroodhouse

April 26th 2021

The garden content at the Palace of Holyroodhouse is quite historical as opposed to horticultural, although there’s a bit of crossover.

The beautiful formal gardens cover 10 acres and are cultivated by an expert team. They are a dramatic contrast to the wild, natural backdrop of Arthur’s Seat. This was once a monastery garden where monks grew plants for food and raised medicinal herbs for use in their infirmary. As you walk through you will see all that remains of these monastic buildings.

The Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, Scotland

Look out for the sundial which is thought to date from 1633, the year of Charles I’s coronation. It once would have stood in a formal privy garden at the palace.

The Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, Scotland

The gardens were very overgrown when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert began to visit regularly in the mid-19th century. The Prince oversaw their renovation and organised fresh planting, including the creation of a ha-ha or hidden ditch around the edge which makes it seem like the gardens flow into the hills beyond. New trees and plantings still take place, including borders celebrating The Queen’s Jubilees.

Palace of Holyroodhouse - exterior and garden

In 2016, two 100ft Wentworth elms were ‘hidden in plain sight’ and spotted during a tree survey at the Palace.  The trees were believed to be extinct in Britain as, since the 1970s we've lost somewhere between 25 and 75 million elms due to Dutch Elm Disease.

The Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, Scotland

Today these gardens form a wonderful setting for The Queen’s Garden Party each July. Members of the Royal Company of Archers, the monarch’s bodyguard in Scotland are in attendance, as are the High Constables of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The 8000 guests include people from all walks of life who have had a positive effect on their communities.

Garden tour for a visually impaired group in the grounds of the Palace of Holyrood house,Edinburgh.Photograph David Cheskin.13.07.2017.

Due to restrictions, unfortunately we are unable to do guided tours of the garden at the moment. Information about the gardens is included in the multimedia guide, which all visitors receive on entry to the Palace precinct, and occasionally do garden events like ‘Glorious Gardens’ this weekend.  We also have paper garden trail for families and some sketch workshops in the garden scheduled for later this year.

  • Entry to the garden is included in a ticket to the Palace, which is £16.50 for an adult, U5s go free.
  • In 2020, they opened a public Physic Garden next to the Palace based on the original gardens at the site hundreds of years ago.
  • The garden and Palace will be closed 18-28 May (Also closed on Tuesdays and Wednesday all year round).
  • The small physic garden is open every day all year round and free to enter.
  • Photos by Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2021.