William III’s holly trees, planted in 1702, still live

Okay so technically they’re clones, but they were grown from cuttings instead of cooked up in a lab, so that totally counts. The hollies look glorious now thanks to the love and attention of Historic Royal Palaces gardeners. They were in tragic condition when they were first rediscovered in the Privy Garden of Hampton Court Palace in 1995. There were three holly trees found to be originals from the reign of William III and the centuries had taken a hard toll. They had to be chopped down, alas. Before they were felled, cuttings were taken so that William’s hollies might live on.

The Privy Garden at Hampton Court Palace is one of the most accurate period reconstructions of a garden out there, thanks to the very detailed records that have survived describing the garden of 1702. The reason we know so much about the construction of William’s baroque garden is that the king died in March of 1702 before the garden was completed, so the landscapers and workmen tasked with building it included unusually specific descriptions of what they had done in their invoices to ensure they would be paid.

Because of this entirely understandable paranoia, Historic Royal Palaces landscapers were able to restore the Privy Garden of 1702 using the exact plant varieties, long and handsome hornbeam bower, wrought iron screens and statues as designed and commissioned by William III.

Behold the handsome William III hollies installed in Hampton Court Palace’s Fountain Court this year:

Happy holidays, y’all!