Visit to HRH The Prince of Wales’ garden at Highgrove on 24th May 2010

A Member’s personal impression on the visit


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Members met at the Highgrove shop in Tetbury before travelling via mini-bus to Prince Charles’ home. As expected security was high, if you are late - no entry, plus everyone must have photo ID that is checked against list already sent of visitors. Once we were booked in we were met by our guide, fortunately he was a great character and would give a lively tour round the themed gardens. I was pleased to see that the first theme garden we were taken to was very like mine, only to be deflated when told that even princes make mistakes and this garden was due to be destroyed later that week.

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We wandered through the many small gardens, amazed at their diversity. In one The Prince had planted lots and lots of hostas - how did he keep the slugs off them as The Prince does not use chemical pesticides? I planted one once, the next morning I went to water it and all that was left was a stub. There were often man made objects given to Charles dotted around, all cleverly blending into the theme of that garden. Every time someone makes a statue of The Prince he gets a model of it, so what does he do with them? Simple, puts them in niches in hedgerows, as for all those works from masonry colleges he supports — he uses them to make a wall. Remember the hurricane of 1987, The Prince turned the roots upside down on his lost trees to make a plant pot — once people heard, they sent him all theirs now he has used these to create a fascinating Victorian Garden. My favourite part is undoubtedly the wild flower meadow, so pleasing to see now that so many have been destroyed in England. This one is now well established, having been created by Charles thirty years ago. The Prince drives his Suffolk Punches [heavy horses] himself when they are used to cut the meadow.
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When Prince Charles bought Highgrove in 1980, there was hardly any garden to see. On setting out to create one, he made a very modern choice to have a sustainable one, deciding not to use chemical pesticides or fertilisers and to turn waste water from the estate, via a reed bed sewage system, into fresh water for the garden — you can see the same policy at Clarence House with the hosepipe coming out of the bathroom down to water butts. Instead of digging up a row of bushes, he allotted one to each of his gardeners to do their own thing, now you have two rows of clipped bushes of many shapes. Charles is a great collector, once in North Africa he saw a pair of large entrance doors on the side of the road, sending off an equerry to find the owner. Once back at Highgrove they had to make an arch in the garden to hang them so protecting them from the rain. Two vast Urns were being transported on flatbed trailer from the docks, the only address was The Prince of Wales, Tetbury, Glos, the driver kept driving round the village looking for a pub called The Prince of Wales.

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