Princess Diana's garden to be filled with her favourite flowers by gardeners who remember her fondness for the spot

Rozina Sabur
White Garden at Kensington Palace  - PA

Princess Diana's garden will be filled with her favourite flowers, including Forget Me Nots given to her by her brother, after gardeners interviewed friends and family for the commemorative display.

Marking two decades since her death, the memorial garden has opened at the princess's former home, where her sons Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge, his wife the Duchess and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, now live.

 Princess of Wales wears an outfit described as the 'Elvis dress' designed by Catherine Walker  Credit: Tim Graham /Getty

Named The White Garden, its white flowers and foliage have been inspired by memories of Diana's life, style and image, such as her white "Elvis" Catherine Walker dress, currently on display inside Kensington Palace  and the final one in the exhibition, pictured by Mario Testino in 1997.

Dresses which belonged to the late Princess Diana are prepared for an exhibition at Kensington Palace Credit: IJO

The Palace said gardeners had spoken to family and friends of the princess to choose the flowers, such as Forget Me Nots which her brother Earl Spencer remembered giving her as a child.  

Graham Dillamore, who was head gardener of Kensington Palace's memorial garden from 1984 to 1992, has a number of fond memories of the princess.

White Garden at Kensington Palace  Credit: PA

"She was incredibly flattering and complimentary about the work that we did. 

"I think she appreciated the hard work we put in, she was more worried about us out in the cold and asking are we wrapped up.

"She loved the colours and the brightness [of the garden]...She would ask how we came about picking the colours and getting the colour scheme so we would discuss that.

"I never thought that, and she never confessed to being a fantastic gardener, but there were certain colours she liked in the garden - soft pinks, whites, yellow, pastel shades. She used to turn her nose up if I ever put red or deep purple flowers."

Mr Dillamore said that while Diana was a "practical joker" she "had to be careful" visiting them in the public garden to avoid being noticed by the public and would keep a low profile or visit early in the morning.

"I liked her sense of humour she was a very good practical joker - she would sneak up behind you and pretend to be a member of the public. 

"We were struggling to start a lawn mower had broken down and we were just about to give up and she tapped me on the shoulder and said 'maybe if you speak to it nicely it will work'".

White Garden at Kensington Palace  Credit: PA

Mr Dillamore also described working in the palace's private gardens, and remembered Prince William and Harry as young boys "kicking footballs into the flower beds". 

The garden's special display, which took a year to prepare, can be viewed from a public walkway and will be at its best until September.

Princess Diana, Prince Charles and a young Prince William Credit: PA

Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the princess's death, the palace's current head gardener Sean Harkin said a lot of research had gone into the design. 

Mr Harkin said: "Diana would have a bit of a chat with the gardeners. She would have an eye for detail. One gardener would wear quite colourful socks and she would comment on whether the socks matched the garden.

"I wanted to create something that was very simple and elegant and I used the dresses in the exhibition for inspiration - the white has a theme of radiance and glowing. Though it's a white garden there are colours too - deep pinks and purple.

"In addition to using the dresses as inspiration we did some research into Princess Diana's favourite flowers. The theme is that feeling of joyful celebration so we have included accents colours.

"Kensington Palace was the home of Princess Diana for 15 years she wou ld stop and she would admire the changing floral displays in the garden," he said.

An Historic Royal Palaces gardener tends to blossoms in the White Garden at Kensington Palace  Credit: PA

Recalling one particular story, he said: "I remember there was another gardener who told me a story about when he was walking along with a wheelbarrow with a fellow gardener. It's really embarrassing, but he tripped.

"He kind of fell over. It was over-weighted, the wheelbarrow, so everything kind of spilled everywhere. And Princess Diana was going by and turned around and said 'Bad luck, chaps', and kind of gave a smile.

"And they kind of smiled and found it really quite funny, but also it's quite embarrassing when that happens."

The White Garden, already open and free to the public, commemorates the 20 years since the princess died in a Paris car crash when William was 15 and Harry just 12.

Diana was synonymous with the west London palace and mourners flocked to the residence in the aftermath of her death in August 1997 to leave a mass of flowers.

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