In so many ways, the garden at Highgrove represents one very small attempt to heal the appallingly shortsighted damage done to the soil, the landscape and to our own souls. My enduring hope is that those who visit the garden may find something to inspire, excite, fascinate or soothe them.” – HRH The Prince of Wales
It is with this sense of optimism that “Highgrove: An English Country Garden” (Rizzoli, $50) begins. Over the course of 34 years, the Prince of Wales has transformed Highgrove, the Gloucestershire estate he purchased in 1980, into one of the world’s most celebrated examples of organic gardening. As he told garden guru Bunny Guinness, who co-wrote the 240-page tome, “I have put my heart and soul into Highgrove–and I will continue to do so while I can. I have also put my back into Highgrove and, as a result, have probably rendered myself prematurely decrepit in the process.”
The Sundai Garden
This painstaking stewardship, combined with his hands-on approach and passion for all aspects of landscape design, have turned the 347-acre property’s enchanting orchards, arbors, flower beds and meadows into a source of inspiration for gardeners, budding landscape architects and horticultural admirers who want to create a beautiful, seasonal landscape through completely organic and earth-friendly means.
“I suppose, when I think about it, I have gardened to a certain extent from a painter’s perspective,” His Royal Highness wrote in the book’s introduction. “Each part of the garden is a separate ‘painting’ and the result of ceaseless walking, ruminating and observing those moments of magic when the light becomes almost dreamlike in its illuminating intensity.”
View of the Islamic Carpet Garden, Highgrove Garden, August 2007. Inspired by small Turkish carpets in Highgrove House.
In that respect, readers follow him on a personal tour through his “painting” during each of the seasons. In January, for example, the dramatic light and early snowdrops create visual intrigue; in spring, the glistening emerald lawns and blossoming trees lift the spirits; in summer, the longed-for delphiniums stand proudly at attention, and autumn brings dramatically colored foliage. In winter, the structural elements of the garden have their moment of glory. The Prince of Wales even lets his readers in on the thinking behind each planting, as well as lessons learned, triumphs and future plans: “I learnt quite quickly that placing anything in a garden can easily go wrong if you rush at it, so I have tried to never force a plan or design, but to wait for an ‘intuitive’ idea to form itself when the moment is right.”
“Highgrove: An English Country Garden” is available for purchase at www.rizzoliusa.com. A royalty from the sale of each book will be paid to the Prince’s Charities Foundation, which supports a wide range of causes, including global sustainability. The garden at Highgrove is now open to the public for the 2015 season on selected dates. Tickets are available at www.highgrovegardens.com.