THE HIGH LIFE
Prince Charles planted Highgrove three decades ago. Today it stands as one of the world’s great gardens and is lovingly celebrated in this series of photographs capturing its seasons
AFTER 34 YEARS, Prince Charles is proud of his garden. This gorgeous book commemorates the maturing of plans he laid as a young man three decades ago. This is the kind of garden you can achieve when money is no object. It forms part of the Highgrove Estate, bought in 1980 by the Duchy of Cornwall and used in earlier times by Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales as a weekend house.
These are formal, meticulously planned areas, all with their own theme.
The Sundial Garden is a pastel array of mainly herbaceous plants with a spectacularly sculpted yew hedge similar to one planted by the late Queen Mother at Sandringham. The circular sundial is gently reflected in the curved beds surrounding it.
Like all grand estates, it is also productive. There is a delightful Kitchen Garden protected by an ornamental brick wall that traps heat for the vegetables, trees, tunnels and fruit-producing arbours.
There is a ceremonial element to many of the plants. An avenue of lime trees – arranged in a herringbone fashion so they don’t trap each other’s roots and light – was planted in 1994, the gift of the Princes’ Council of the Duchy of Cornwall. In 100 years it will be a virtual wall of wood.
The gardens are dotted with iron and stone seats with areas defined by magnificent sculptures, such as The Daughters of Odessa in memory of the children of the Tsar of Russia murdered at the start of the Russian Revolution in 1918. Some of the gardens have a central fountain or pond, including the ornately curved lily pond at the top of Thyme Walk where the water level is kept high to allow birds to drink from the sides.
The Prince’s taste for topiary is evident, with manicured hedges forming borders and backdrops and follies. His taste for trash and treasure is also on show; set into the Indian Gate are beautifully carved, studded doors discovered by a roadside in Jodhpur.
The magnificently photographed book chronicles the gardens through the seasons, from the bleak architecture of winter through to the sweet spring flowers in the Wildflower Meadow and the heavy flowers of summer.