I’m at the gate, passport and tickets in hand, phone switched to silent and ready to pass through security. After months of waiting, I’m at the Prince of Wales’ estate at Highgrove and excited to see what he has created on a 15-acre site which was once a chemical dumping ground. The prince has a
I’m at the gate, passport and tickets in hand, phone switched to silent and ready to pass through security. After months of waiting, I’m at the Prince of Wales’ estate at Highgrove and excited to see what he has created on a 15-acre site which was once a chemical dumping ground.
The prince has a 10-strong team led by head gardener Debs Goodenough, and regular visitors include horticulture’s own gardening royalty such as Sir Roy Strong, Bunny Guinness and Pippa Greenwood.
With such esteemed help, one might expect a grand exquisite landscape with imposing tree-lined avenues, manicured lawns and spectacular vistas reminiscent of Versailles. But on the contrary, the prince has created a highly individual garden where he definitely reigns supreme.
Reluctant to throw things away, he likes to use unwanted items creatively. The garden is a jumble of ideas, packed with quirky artefacts collected on his travels, gifts from close friends and various sculptures and follies he has designed himself, often using upcycled or salvaged materials.
I can just hear Camilla opine: “Not more junk for the garden dear!”
The prince is hands-on, and knows what he likes. Whimsical topiarised yew specimens sit alongside messy cottage-style borders, and nature is often allowed to do its own thing.
He doesn’t like the garden to be too tidy, and allows the abundant climbers to scramble around his house, often obscuring the windows.
My overwhelming impression is that the garden is primarily an outlet for the prince’s imagination and creativity, be it the Islamic garden, William and Harry’s old tree house or the Stumpery, pictured.
Some features are intensely personal, such as the willow memorial to Tigga, his late and much-missed Jack Russell terrier, who died in 2002 aged 18, and the ‘Wall of Worthies’, where busts of some of the most influential people in the Prince’s life have been mounted on to a screen.
It may not be my Duchy of Cornwall cup of tea, but this a garden which makes me smile. Without doubt it gives HRH a tremendous amount of pleasure, reflecting his beliefs, providing sanctuary and allowing him total freedom of expression.
In this hectic, digitally curated age, shouldn’t all our gardens be like this?