When a Plantlife e-newsletter plopped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago, I had a trawl through the news items, and there was notice of an evening to be held in the garden at Highgrove, Prince Charles's home in Gloucestershire. I have always wanted to visit. It is renowned for being a very beautiful garden. The evening involved a walk through the grounds, dinner and a talk from Plantlife's botanical specialist, Dr Trevor Dines. So I thought, why not? The event started at 6pm, which gave me time to drive down to Tetbury, and then drive home the next day. So I booked myself a ticket and a hotel room!
Tetbury disappointed me. I found it to be surprisingly dingy. And it suffers from the overwhelming effect of traffic, relentlessly trailing through the town centre. Having lived in Scotland for 20 years I have now become extremely spoilt when it comes to traffic. I notice that it starts to build up when you reach Lancaster, travelling south on the M6. By the time you reach the south of England, it is all-consuming.
I think this hare felt much the same as I did about the endless stream of cars going past his shop window. He doesn't look very impressed.
Amongst Highgrove's many wonders is a well-established wild flower meadow. This was to be the focus of the Plantlife evening. We were lucky enough to be able to walk through the meadow, on a new path created for, and only trodden by, the Prince himself. The walk through the garden was fabulous, followed by a thumpingly good glass or three of Pimms, decorated with oranges, strawberries, fresh flowers, mint - a delight to behold! And then an excellent dinner, followed by a talk by Plantlife's botanical specialist, Dr Trevor Dines, about wildflower meadows and the Coronation Meadow initiative, started by Prince Charles in 2012, to mark the Queen's jubilee (http://coronationmeadows.org.uk). It is a sobering statistic that, over the last 75 years, we have lost 97% of our wild flower meadows in the UK. That can't be allowed to continue - read more here http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uploads/documents/REVERSING_THE_TREND_Report_Draft_FINAL.pdf
It was a real shame that I couldn't take any photographs during the visit to Highgrove. Understandably cameras, mobile phones or any video equipment are now allowed on the Estate. It is a royal home after all, and we walked very close to the house. You can get a few glimpses of the garden here, http://www.highgrovegardens.com/meadow/index.html. There is also a wonderful book about the garden, with lots of photographs, which I might put on my Father Christmas list!
On Friday, instead of just heading for home, I decided to drive through the Cotswolds to visit the Whichford Pottery. I drove along some lovely lanes, full of the wild flowers of June - meadow cranesbill, hogweed, wild rose and elderflower. Glorious stuff!
I have a few Whichford pots in the garden, but haven't visited the pottery for several years. It has developed quite a lot!
In celebration of William Shakespeare's 450th anniversary next year, they have a great range of pots inscribed with lines from his plays.
I was able to have a wander through the workshops.
Here are some flowerpots commemorating the birth of our new little princess. They are still unfired pots so the terracotta colour is not yet evident.
They even have a dog to match the clay!
A new addition to the Whichford experience is a little cafe. A colourful place, which I rather enjoyed!
There must be plenty of early spotted orchids in the locality. They had picked some for the table decorations!
I had a little something to eat and drink, before heading off up the motorway, north. More of that in another post!