Highgrove … a garden that delights the eye, warms the heart and feeds the soul …

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These were just some of the words that Prince Charles used in his video that we were shown prior to the guided tour of his garden.    The garden is huge with areas of beautifully clipped hedges, topiary, an arboretum, wild flower meadow, long scenic walks and intimate herbaceous gardens.  There is nothing twee about these gardens, designers have built follies that look as though they have been there forever. Using wood from the estate and adorned with gifts from foreign dignitaries - nothing seems to be wasted.  It is a quirky garden with some brilliantly wonderful features, that just take your breath away.

Fountain in the Stumpery - Highgrove

The Stumpery (a Victorian term) is full of upturned trunks  from the estate  when  swathes of woodland were uprooted in the great storms.   Ferns and hostas are planted within giving a rain forest feel.  Wherever you look there is something of interest – like this fountain where the water runs through giant clam shells and planted atop with Gunnera. 

The Cottage Garden - Highgrove

The cottage garden area has an absolutely brilliant showing of delphiniums, the really dark blue ones that are jaw- droppingly beautiful.

I went on this visit not sure what to expect as I had heard conflicting opinions on the garden, but I wasn't disappointed in any way shape or form.  My absolutely favourite part of the garden was the Carpet garden, inspired by a Persian carpet, set out with mosaic fountains, and blue tiled runnels shifting the water in and out of the jewel like planting.  It was in an enclosed courtyard reminiscent of Morocco stunningly beautiful – a sight to behold.

The Carpet Garden - Highgrove

Nearest the rear of the house is the thyme walk with little stone buildings in the corners for shade and quiet contemplation.  The rather unusual topiary was carried out by trainees, given a free-hand in their design.  The rather stark exterior of the house has trained plants growing up the walls including a 300 year old magnolia which has flowers the size of dinner plates.

The Thyme Walk - Highgrove

The Prince of Wales came to Highgrove in 1980 when the gardens consisted of little more than a brown path, thorn bushes and an old kitchen garden.  Using his own visions and ideas, HRH, with the help of some of Britain’s finest garden designers, has created a series of individual gardens that do indeed delight the eye.

It has taken thirty years to get the garden to where it is today and I guess it will keep on evolving under his guardian ship and the expert advice of the various designers and craftsmen that get involved.

I was unable to take photos as it is forbidden but I bought some postcards from the gift shop so I could share this wonderful garden with you. We finished the two hour tour with lunch in the restaurant and a much needed pot of tea.  It was quite a long journey from where we live but well worth it.   And my souvenir from the visit – free range eggs from the Royal hens no less.

I would love to see this garden season by season – I am sure it would never disappoint.

Comments

  1. I've been once and would love to go again sometime, it's a remarkable place.

    jean x

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    1. I agree Jean - I keep remembering little details that I wish I had photos of.

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  2. It is stunning friend and I am so glad that you did this post to teach us more about it! I wonder why cameras are forbidden as it is a magical treasure! And I really like that Moroccan area of the garden as well as the formal area with that imaginative hedge!! Each room evokes such a feeling....I seriously love learning about new places like this! So thanks from your friend in the US! Glad you were able to experience this!! Nicole xo

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    1. Oh and I forgot to mention how cool it is that you have royal eggs !!!

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    2. I have seen pictures and read about it but it definitely isn't the same as seeing it for yourself.

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  3. It sounds wonderful - thank you for sharing.

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    1. It was quite an experience that I won't forget in a hurry.

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  4. Of your photos, I like the cottage garden and its shelter the best. I find the topiary 'not quite right'. HRH is much maligned in the press, but I admire him hugely.

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    1. There were little wooden structures in each of the garden rooms, beautifully designed in natural materials. I admit the thyme walk topiary was a little quirky but I think that added to its charm.

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  5. Hello Elaine:

    We are delighted that you enjoyed your visit to Highgrove and that it came up to all your expectations. It is, we feel, exceedingly generous of the Prince of Wales to open the garden to groups and to give people the opportunity to see what has been achieved over thirty or so years.

    We had the opportunity to be at Highgrove many years ago when the garden was very much in its infancy. At the time we did not care for it greatly and thought it all somewhat muddled where too many different designers had had a hand. Perhaps we should feel differently now.

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    1. So many people must visit this garden each year - there seem to be an army of tour guides who must keep very fit showing everyone around. I guess you are right in that many designers have been involved and it was interesting to see their interpretation of HRH's ideas. I thought it all blended rather well.

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  6. Thank you for going to the trouble of scanning in postcards. This is one garden that, apart from the meadow, I have seen no pictures of until now.
    Was there anything you would change?!

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    1. Not really Lucille - although I would have liked to see more water involved - a lake would have been nice.

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  7. Hi Elaine,

    I have a huge book on Highgrove that I bought around a year ago. The photographs in it are wonderful but there is nothing like seeing it for real :)
    Oh the stumpery, I have dreams ..............

    I can understand you loving the carpet garden, it must feel as though you have been transported to another part of the world.

    Glad you had a good day and hope you enjoy your eggs :)

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    1. I have seen tv programmes and read supplements in magazines but nothing really prepared me for what was in store. Although it took a couple of hours to go round with the guide, there are some parts where I would really have like to linger a little longer to soak up the atmosphere.

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  8. A great post. I have been twice to Highgrove, in both early and late summer and I love it. There is so much to see and so many ideas. I would love a stumpery.

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    1. For me it was how certain items had been incorporated - like the imported Indian arch with the iron gates covered in verdigris or the wall made from collected masonry from churches - everything had been put to some use - recycling on a grand scale.

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  9. Thanks for sharing. Elaine. This garden is so enchantingly beautiful, it's almost impossible to believe it's real...

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    1. I think you would have found plenty of ideas for future paintings Marielle.

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  10. Charles does know how to nurture nature. I have seen a TV special on his estate. It is remarkable and you are fortunate to have been able to visit it. Too bad only post cards were allowed.

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    1. Yes - it was so frustrating not to be able to show my take on the garden - but 'rules is rules'.

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  11. It's good to see that you enjoyed it as much as you did, which does't surprise me. As Ann says he nurtures nature which stands him in good stead in my book. Your souvenir is a bit different.
    A most enjoyable post. Flighty xx

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    1. I'll let you into a little secret - the eggs were the cheapest thing in the gift shop - everything else was so overpriced.

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    2. I'm not surprised! Flighty xx

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  12. Thank you for this interesting post. I have the book of High Grove and hope to be able to visit this Royal garden in one of the coming years. Such a pity you were not allowed to make pictures but the postcards are nice too. The Carpet Garden must be stunning.

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    1. I am sure you will enjoy it when you eventually get around to visiting Janneke - it is rather special.

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  13. Glad you had a good time Elaine, I found just the experience of being there as engaging as the gardens themselves. On our tour we were told that ducks nest on the top of the stumpery centrepiece, but then the little ones have to jump off, before they can fly, to get down to the water.. eek.

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    1. That water feature was a triumph - sort of ugly but it fitted in beautifully amidst all the tree trunks - there was something of the Inca about it.

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  14. Such a pity that you couldn't take photos - how bug is the garden?

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    1. I did Google it to try and find out with no luck but it must cover a few acres.

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  15. Oh how marvelous it all looks....if only we all had expert designers and lots of dosh to do our own gardens! I love the stumpery, in fact I loved everything. What a shame they won't let pics be taken. A marvelous day out for sure....I bet you came home with lots of ideas.xxx

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    1. There was certainly a lot of inspirational ideas but I would find it hard to accommodate them in my garden.

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  16. wow, what a lot of different design ideas in one garden!

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    1. I agree each part of the garden was totally different but somehow I thought it flowed pretty well.

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  17. One assumes that one came away with envelopes full of seeds & plastic bags heaving with cuttings!!

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    1. One wasn't able to do some sneaky pinching as there was a tour guide in front keeping a beady eye on us and one at the back, just to make sure.

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  18. That is absolutely fabulous! Breathtaking, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour as much as I did.

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  19. Delighted that you had a good trip to Highgrove Elaine - I have only been once, and was also disappointed that no photos are allowed, but you have managed well with the PCs.
    It is a lovely experience and you do feel that you are in a special place.

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    1. I agree Rosemary - and the staff were all so polite and charming - even the police at the front gate were nice.

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  20. It looks wonderful, glad you enjoyed it :-)

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    1. Yes it was Su - well worth a visit

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  21. What a shame that you couldn't take photos but thank you for sharing the postcards. What a gorgeous place. I love how bright the colours are in the carpet garden. I have heard many good things about Prince Charles' environmentalism and gardening enthusiasm. This garden really demonstrates his love of all things plants.

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    1. I have seen magazine supplements taken from his books on Highgrove so had a rough idea of what to expect - it didn't disappoint and I feel he should be proud of what he has achieved with what was once barren land.

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  22. Thank you for sharing this visit, I'm pretty sure that I will never have the opportunity to visit in person. But this made me feel like I was there on the tour with you. It sounds delightful, beautiful, and lush....sigh.

    Jen

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    1. We were a little nervous about the journey not really knowing where we were going etc. and we had to be there at a precise time 10.50 if you missed your appointed time that was it - no entry. Luckily we got there fifteen minutes early - whew.

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  23. I am so glad to read that you like Highgrove. A local friend visited the garden last summer and had very little nice to say. I was a bit crestfallen as I listened to her wax on about the holes in the Royal hostas, because I had seen the garden on video and it looked quite magical. I also planned to buy the new book on the garden. So I am glad to have the balance of your positive opinion. One day I hope to visit Highgrove.

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    1. Actually the hostas we saw were pretty much holeless but there was so much more to the garden than that. One thing that did impress me was the use of Germander/Speedwell as formal edging - although it wasn't in flower at the time, HRH had insisted upon it as it is so good for the bees - I may well be sourcing seed next year, even though I find odd patches in my garden, I quite like the idea of making a feature of it. We shall see.

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  24. What a treat! I didn't know it was possible to visit Highgrove! It's a garden that I'd like to see as I have huge respect for Prince Charles' views on matters relating to nature. It's a pity you're not allowed to take photos; I love to look back at my photos of garden visits - and I understand about the rigid start time of the tour but … no entry at all if you're late? I'm wondering if you drove there from home in Yorkshire for the day? A long drive if so and I can understand your concern about arriving on time!

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    1. Leicestershire Caro - still a longish drive - tiring but worth it.

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  25. Oh I was wondering what you thought of Highgrove Elaine and am glad to read that you had a brilliant day. I loved the Persian garden and the stumpery too. Our visit was made even more memorable by the torrential rain that delayed the start of our tour. Our garden club has made three visits there now at different times of the year and members have never been disappointed.

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    1. I think it would definitely be worth seeing in every season. The weather when we visited was perfect - not sure I would have enjoyed it so much in torrential rain though.

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  26. It must have been wonderful to visit Highgrove,I would love to go there too. What a shame that you can't take pictures. Sarah x

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    1. That was the only downside Sarah - I was itching to get the camera out - oh well, rules is rules I guess.

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