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