Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Charming visit to Highgrove draws a blank



Yesterday (Monday) I took a day’s leave and joined an Australian Women’s Club tour to Highgrove, Prince Charles’ garden and country home in Gloucestershire. (And yes the AWC did notice I wasn’t fully one of their kind.)

The tour started appropriately enough next to a Transylvanian meadow planted near the meeting room and restaurant.  His Royal Highness has some property in Transylvania, in Rumania, and wants to recreate a wildflower meadow typical of that region in western England.

At the moment the meadow is dominated by Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), at the noisy stage of this name, having sucked the energy out of its host grass. The idea is that by doing this, it helps create space for other (Transylvanian) flowers to flourish. Elsewhere in the gardens there are plenty of local (English/British) meadows, often supplemented by bulbs from all over the globe.


The garden as a whole is hard to describe. It’s idiosyncratic, quirky and fun. I liked it. I like the individuality, the rough and ragged edges in places (and the tight control in others), and the fact that it isn’t like every other garden.

The Stumpery , with lots of upturned Sweet Chestnut stumps reminiscent of giant star anise, worked well for me (but not for everyone in the group). The follies and foibles, and funny topiary, were all good fun. There was plenty of natural limestone as well as carved rocks and wood of various kinds. Many of the sculptural pieces are gifts to Prince Charles and this seems like as good a use for them as any.

The Kitchen Garden was very cheery and full of flowers at this time of year, with Teucrium hedges replacing boxes lost to blight.

The formal garden around the house was charming, befitting for a Prince, and the eighteenth century Cedar of Lebanon that died a few years ago has been converted into a spire-topped hut with new plantings erupting from its roof and an old branch from the cedar still decorated with bird houses and feeders.

Sure some parts are better than others. The Carpet Garden, an adaptation of a garden Prince Charles designed for the Chelsea Flower Show, didn’t work for me. But that’s OK. This is not a perfect garden or a garden aiming for perfection. It’s a personal garden that just happens be the creation of a well-know Royal personage.


 Images: One is not allowed to take pictures at Highgrove.

2 comments:

Catherine said...

I thought you must have visited at night! I've often visited gardens where I've been told that I can't take photographs. I have mixed feelings about it. Some garden designer owners say "I want to publish pictures of my garden in a book so I don't want others in mags and websites before that". Others just smugly don't want to share - this is MY garden and you can look but not record. I'm always surprised by that as most gardeners are very generous people who do like to share.
Catherine

Tim Entwisle said...

Yes I was being a bit cheeky but I share your thoughts on this. I do understand people not wanting to lose control of their creative ideas but photographing is a great way for some of us to record our personal visit. In my case I wanted to celebrate the garden a little and how better than with a few pictures. I expect it's complicated with the Royal family but it would have been nice to take away some visual mementos... Tim.