The following passage was in Lord Tebbit’s recent column in The Telegraph:
Mr Pascall wrote that he was “amazed to read that there are now 400 staff in Downing Street” and goes on to say that in Thatcher’s day he was one of but seven, alongside Alan Walters (economics) and Alan Parsons (foreign affairs). There was also the principal private secretary and four other private secretaries; about four in the press office under Bernard Ingham; two in the political office; another four in the honours section; Ten garden girls and four or five members of security and police.
What does garden girl mean in this context? I don't think it means ‘gardener’ (nor is professional groundskeeper necessarily a women-only occupation), since that wouldn’t usually be counted as staff in Downing Street, but I also have no idea what alternative meaning could be attributed.