Collection Magazine - Issue 1 - Autumn/Winter 22/23 - Magazine - Page 96
The gardens have been developed to be as selfsufficient as possible with all green waste recycled for reuse as mulching material or as compost. Natural predators
are encouraged for pest control and only natural fertilisers
are used. The King also desperately wanted to protect
and enhance native flora and fauna which have been in
serious decline due to modern farming methods.
On the advice of Miriam Rothschild, one of the country’s
leading advocates of biodiversity, the King re-created a
lost habitat by re-establishing a wildflower meadow. The
meadow now boasts over 30 different varieties of native
plants including ox-eye daisies, yellow rattle, common
spotted orchid, meadow crane’s bill and ragged robin,
creating a rich tapestry of colour and diversity.
It is one of the most enchanting sights and evokes
distant memories of a meadow where flowers proliferate
among the different grasses until hay-making time. This
is England’s natural beauty personified and it is a picture
that the King wanted to protect.
The gardens are also home to part of the national
collection of beech trees and large leaved Hostas which
His Majesty maintains on behalf of Plant Heritage, of which
he is Patron. This organisation conserves the diversity of
our plant heritage through its national collections.
In the Walled Kitchen Garden, vegetables much loved
by the King such as Charlotte potatoes, spring cabbage,
Brussels sprouts and carrots are grown, including rare and
endangered varieties that are vital in terms of biodiversity.
A wide variety of apple trees including Nonpareil, Golden
Knob, Cornish Aromatic and Lady’s Delight grow both
next to the Orchard Room and the Walled Garden. Some
very rare cooking apples are also produced — varieties
which are now virtually extinct.
Wildlife thrives in this environment and is furthermore
encouraged: from English song birds like the chiff-chaff,
dunnock and song thrush to dragonflies, butterflies,
beetles, newts and rare bumble bees, all are part of the
virtuous circle of Mother Nature at Highgrove.
The 13-acre estate is packed with many eccentric
touches and personal mementos, including the childhood
tree-house of Princes William and Harry; the quiet spot
in The Sanctuary where Tigga, the Kings’s most trusted
English Jack Russell Terrier, is buried; and a bust of the
Queen Mother in her gardening hat.
Gifts from around the world range from an ancient
door donated by Indian nobles to a female 'leprechaun
gnome' sent from Ireland to join her ‘mate’ when the King
married Camilla. The latest work of student stonemasons,
supported by the King's charities, sit alongside the work of
famous artists. There are also many 'recycled' items such
as church sculptures picked up in Sandringham and old
bits of driftwood collected by the King himself.
In his introduction to ‘Highgrove, Portrait of an Estate,’
published 15 years ago, the King cited the trees and
parkland around the house as one of the major reasons
he was drawn to live in Gloucestershire nearly forty
years ago. He also developed an instant passion for the
200-year-old cedar tree on the west side of the house.
This broad, tabular, 60 foot-high cedar of Lebanon
was almost as imposing a feature as the Jersey-cowcoloured mansion it partnered and part-obscured. The
cedar was the organic counterweight to the mansion’s
Georgian architecture. It gave summer shade to the sitting
terrace, with its Mediterranean pots, self-sown tapestry of
forget-me-nots, alchemillas and much more, its bubble
fountain and octagonal pond, into which the King throws
stones he collects on his travels. And the cedar gave the
arching frame to the garden's principal axis, down the
cobble-patterned thyme walk, with its flanks of golden
yew topiaries and palisades of bleached hornbeam, past
a bronze of a gladiator and another low fountain pool, to a
lime avenue crowned by a dovecote.
“ To me, it was just not sustainable
in the long run. We have to
rediscover the vital importance
of working with nature.”
T H E G A R D E N AT H I G H G ROV E —