After what has felt has been a lifetime of colleagues ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ over my shoulder of photos from Highgrove: A Garden Celebrated by HRH The Prince of Wales, I had the great opportunity to go to our printer in Trento, Italy to say a final farewell and pass the book for press. While the running pages were printing and we meticulously looked over every image to ensure its perfection, I paid special attention to, what I think, is the most impressive part of the garden – the Kitchen Garden in June.
At this time of year, the Kitchen Garden is blooming with roses, wisterias, honeysuckles, alliums and delphiniums (The Prince’s favourite). The crab apple trees (Malus ‘Golden Hornet’) that surround the central part of the garden are in full blossom and the rows and beds of vegetables, including sweet carrots, lettuce, beetroot, spinach, rhubarb and peas look almost too beautiful to pick.
The asparagus beds, a Royal favourite, are thriving in June, as well as some other preferred veggies, such as the purple Brussels sprout ‘Rubine’ and the purple carrot ‘Purple Haze’, as they not only offer lots of colour but are also high in antioxidants and anthocyanin.
The central tunnel is trained with apple trees and deceptively releases the smell of apples, which actually comes from the Sweet Briar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa) mingling within the tunnel. There are also plump espaliered apples, pears, gages, plums and redcurrants lining the walls and which are grown at just the right height to pick to test their ripeness.
The gardens at Highgrove are all completely organic and in order to grow great vegetables, a variety of organic strategies are set into place – there are absolutely no chemicals used. One of the methods used includes feeding the plants with comfrey tea. This is either done by directly putting the leaves into the compost or by making it into a liquid plant food.
Sustainable, beautiful and productive, it is incredibly impressive that this Kitchen Garden keeps the estate completely self-sufficient in fruits and vegetables. Everything grown here is also used as part of the vegetable box scheme and sold in the surrounding shops of Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
It is for these reasons and so many more (the stunning rose arbours and trickling fountain look like they have been relocated from Aurora’s Cottage) why this is by far my favourite part of the gardens at Highgrove. Working on this book has inspired me to grow my own vegetable and herbs from my windowsill planters (we all have to start somewhere), so whether Pauper or Prince, everyone can make growing their own sustainable, seasonable and delicious.