Monday, 8 April 2013

Picture: front cover of book, written by HRH The Prince of Wales and Candida Lycett Green

Good morning!
I do hope you are all well this Monday and that you had a lovely weekend?
Ours started early on Friday morning, when we made our way to the beautiful Cotswolds which is about three hours away from our home here in Kent.  My mother in law lives in the delightful village of Minchinhampton, which is one of numerous picture perfect villages in this area of Gloucestershire......many with ancient market squares and full of gorgeous properties, all built from beautiful honey coloured Cotswold stone.
To tie in with our visit, I had managed to secure two very covetable tickets to visit the stunning gardens of Highgrove, home to HRH The Prince of Wales.  These go on sale at the beginning of February each year, and it is always a rush on day one of the sale to book these.......last year I left it too late, but this year I was lucky!

Highgrove has been home to the Prince since 1980, when he took over the property from Maurice Macmillan whose father, Harold Macmillan, was the British Prime Minister in the late 1950's and early 60's.  Having been originally built in 1796 in a Georgian neo-classical style on the site of an older property, the most likely architect was a local mason, Anthony Keck.

Since 1980, both the house and garden have been the subject of many thoughtful and innovative changes.  When the Prince arrived, Highgrove's garden had little more than a neglected walled garden, some pastureland and a 
few Oak trees.

Today, after the hard work of scores of people, the garden unfolds in a series of highly personal and inspiring tableaux, each one reflecting the Prince's interests and enthusiasms.  Highgrove is also the location of the Home Farm of the Duchy of Cornwall, which has developed into a centre of excellence for organic farming and gardening.

Our tour on Friday was so inspirational.  In a small group of just 20, our guided visit for two hours took us through fifteen exquisitely developed acres of garden......all different......but all with lovely attention to detail. Many incorporating gifts and items from the Prince's travels (I particularly loved a stunning pair of intricately carved gates that he had found in the mud on a visit to Rajesthan!), some very beautiful formal areas and others with a fun and playful completely organically, sustainably, self sufficienty and in complete harmony with nature. 
In all, a very personal reflection of the Prince's beliefs and passions.

Walled kitchen garden.

Due to security, photography was not allowed, so please excuse the quality of my pictures, which I have taken from the beautiful book produced by the Prince and Candida Lycett Green.

View from house towards the 'Thyme walk'.

We were not fortunate enough to enjoy the garden in its full summer glory, as in these pictures, but the bulbs were stunning and we were able to appreciate the exquisite form and structure.
Although a little chilly, the sun shone for us!

Drive and entrance to Highgrove.

In all, a fascinating and inspiring afternoon.  If you know in advance that you are ever going to be in this beautiful part of England, I would urge you to try and get tickets.  Our guide also said that although sold out early on, it is well worth registering interest for any cancellations!

Market House, Tetbury

Highgrove is just outside the historical town of Tetbury.  An important market town for the Cotswold wool trade in the Middle Ages,  it is known as an 'architectural gem'..... with its pillared Market House, built in 1655, and with many of its original Wool Merchant's houses looking just as they did 300 years ago.

The pillared 'Market Square', with popular hotel and restaurant 'The Snooty Fox' on the left.

Renowned also for its wonderful selection of Antique and Interiors shops, it is one of my favourite places to visit!

Highgrove shop, Tetbury

Our visit would not have been complete without popping in to the gorgeous Highgrove Shop.....selling a selection of lovely items and gifts for the home and garden.....the sale of which, along with revenue from numerous 'Duchy of Cornwall' products and the garden tours...... goes to the Prince's many successful, innovative and very worthwhile charities.

Back home now with much new inspiration 
for the garden!  
Some a little ambitious perhaps.....I imagine it helps having Highgrove's staff of 12 gardeners!  There are however some lovely design elements that I have taken away with me from this very personal and much loved garden, which I hope to incorporate in my own much loved, more modest sized one!

Wishing you a happy Monday.....

Sophia xx


  1. Oh lucky you I have watched a number of documentaries on Highrove and is a place I would so love to visit

  2. Definitely one of my favorite 'all organic' gardens in the world! From the Orchard Room to the sundial garden to the walled kitchen garden, all so beautiful. The last time I visited, the (then) new head gardener was softening the black and white color scheme of the sundial garden with touches of pink. And they had just replaced the boxwood borders in kitchen garden with nepeta. Also, the sweet pea tunnels were in full bloom. Too bad photos are not allowed. But understand why, though.