– Hidecote and Highgrove –
There are very few things more magical than an English garden on a summer’s day. As an Aussie, I reckon I can just about get away with that line, my resident Pom, James, might have other thoughts as a non-gardener, but as the writer of this piece I am calling the shots!
When we found ourselves in England in July, the height of the English summer it seemed only appropriate that we should visit some famous English Gardens. Top of my list was the National Trust’s Hidecote, just outside Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire and as a special treat our friends had bought us all tickets to Prince Charles’ garden Highgrove near Tetbury Gloucestershire.
Hidecote is laid out following the Arts and Craft principles, by this I mean there are formal garden “rooms” around the main house, then more natural plantings toward to the outer reaches of the garden. The colour schemes vary from the classic all white garden, to my favourite, a vibrant garden of purples and reds. Beautiful vistas and tantalising sneak peaks of the neighbouring garden rooms guide the guest from room to exquisitely planted room.
Prince Charles’ Highgrove is quite a different punnet of petunias, it is much more casual, more whimsical and more fun! didn’t think you’d hear me say that of the Princes’ garden did you? In the Thyme Walk for example the Prince has allowed each of his gardeners to clip a golden yew into whatever shape they like.There is the reconditioned cubby house, once used by William and Harry, now ready for George and Charlotte to enjoy. And of course there are the famous giant pots which appeared on one of the Princes’ Christmas cards with the young Princes playing in them (I scored major brownie points with our guide for knowing that!). A formal garden maybe but very much a family one too.
Whilst we were able to drive up, buy a ticket and walk and photograph to our heart’s content at Hidecote, not so at Highgrove. You must buy your tickets in advance for a certain date and time slot. On entry you must show some photo ID, as visitors to England James and I had to show our passports. And sadly you are most certainly not allowed to take any photographs, at one point my girlfriend took out her mirror to top up her lipstick and the guide asked very sternly “Are you getting out a phone?” all eyes turned to my poor friend who had to show the guide her mirror and admit a make-up malfunction. It did make me wonder what would have happened had it been a phone, maybe the SAS would have dropped down from the trees.
Both gardens as you would expect have tearooms with all manner of scrumptious goodies on offer and of course both have shops to purchase souvenirs and plants.
The National Trust has many gorgeous gardens and properties right across the UK so do go onto their website and check them out. As I said above regarding Highgrove, the tickets must be bought in advance so go onto their website for full details.