How to create your own organic garden fit for a future king
Element spoke to Debs Goodenough, head gardener to the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, on the principles and practices that have made Highgrove so special.
What is the key piece of advice you would give to readers looking to garden organically?
Look to your soil – feed and nurture it to give you the healthy plants that you want to grow. It is a wholesome approach which looks at the overall dynamics which make a garden thrive, rather than ‘quick fix’ actions to fix ‘problems’ that will occur again and again.
Pest control can be one of the toughest challenges in organic gardening, do you have a secret?
Pest control can be a challenge, but by taking a more holistic approach and encouraging more wildlife, which are predators of your pests, into the garden, you can deal with many of the problems. High Grove is a haven for wildlife: we encourage slow worms, toads, hedgehogs and song birds which in turn help us to keep the pests numbers down. One of the most popular questions that the garden tours are asked is “how come the hostas look so good?” His Royal Highness holds the National Collection of large-leaved hostas, which maintain their stately leaves with minimal slug and snail damage as their natural predators are encouraged to thrive: a balance is achieved between garden friend and foe. Also appreciate what is ‘acceptable’ damage; ask yourself if intervention is necessary and if so, is there an organic approach to reduce the pest numbers and how can we prevent the problem occurring again?
Organic roses are another tricky area, do you have any tips?
Feed the soil, often! Create a good watering regime in the growing season and choose disease resistant varieties. Ensure the position is suitable to plant the rose in, with enough light, wind protection and the right soil conditions.