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Cream Tea with the Head Gardener

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Did you know that the Regency gardens initialed the installation of the modern British garden? Or that it is the first point of call for migrating birds? Or that the Royal Pavilion boasts one of the only Regency gardens in the country?


Float along with Head Gardener Robert Hill-Snook and let him dazzle you with his knowledge. It is an afternoon treat you will not forget, concluding with a rich cream tea, fit for any king or queen.

Personally, as a member of staff, I’ve no knowledge of the gardens and have often found them, dare I say it, messy. There is purpose in the structure though, as I later found out.

The tour started slow but its foundations are vital. I don’t want to spoil things but you learn why the irregularity of the garden’s shape works to frame the palace.

Robert comes across as the easiest of tour guides, being half walking horticultural dictionary and half charismatic chaperone. What struck me was how passionate he is about the place and how far he goes to protect it. “Vandalism is a big threat to the garden,” he tells us, not only from late night thieves, plucking flowers, but from the foilage-eating pigeons.

Every thing in on a plan, he later goes on to explain, and is meant to reflect nature. The heart of the countryside in the heart of a city would be a better way of describing it. From the King’s Roses to the Strawberry Tree – all things are accounted for in the plan.

Later Robert dazzled us with an assortment of facts. To pick one, we learned how Butchers Broom was once used as a cleaning tool in the kitchen. But my favourite fact was that there was a tree in the garden that had been planted on the day of America’s independence.

After the breezy stroll, our cream tea was delivered on the wonderful café balcony, on which you get a fantastic view of the entire garden. Don’t attend this tour if you are on a diet as an ice-cream sized scoop of cream awaits your screaming hips. Top this with jam on a towering fruit scone and you have the perfect cream tea.

Lots of jam!

Lots of jam!

If I were you, I wouldn’t wait to book this tour. Robert welcomes people to take advantage of his mountain of garden knowledge. This summer opportunity is like the French Rose, the Petite Lizette, it only flowers once!