Even though we’re well into the second official week of spring, most of us are still cooped up inside, thanks to stay-at-home directives aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus as well as lingering wintry weather in many parts of the world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge our royal garden fantasies. Enter the virtual tour of Prince Charles’ garden at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, which Google Arts & Culture launched in 2019.
With photos, videos, and “click and drag” Google Street View features, the virtual tour allows visitors to explore nearly all areas of the Royal Gardens at Highgrove House, from the Thyme Walk, a promenade lined with manicured golden yew topiary, to the Stumpery, a wild corner outside inspired by the Victorian garden design concept of growing ferns among upturned tree stumps.
The virtual tour also highlights the innovations Prince Charles has instituted to ensure environmentally conscious upkeep of the gardens.
“Sustainability is at the heart of the Prince of Wales's management of the gardens,” the tour states, noting that waste material is recycled, rainwater is used for irrigation, and composting and natural fertilizers are used to ensure the gardens are as self-sufficient as possible.
Prince Charles's hand is also reflected in the transformation of the gardens in sculptural additions throughout, from busts of his Royal Highness at various stages of life peeking through clipped hedge “windows” to a wicker memorial to Tigga, his Jack Russell terrier who passed away in 2002 at age 18.
And landscaping ideas — from beautiful flowering shrubs, vines, and plants in the flower-filled Sundial Garden to outdoor fountain design like the Carpet Garden's tiled fountain surround inspired by a Turkish carpet — abound.
The virtual tour even offers vegetable garden inspiration by showcasing the Kitchen Garden, with heritage fruits and vegetables grown in pots that make up the crosses of Saint George and Saint Andrew.
Most years, the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, open the Royal Gardens at Highgrove to the public for guided tours on specific dates between April and October. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the gardens are closed until “at least the end of June 2020,” according to the website. (The Highgrove store at Tetbury, along with its online shop, is also closed.)
Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, but is recovering and is no longer self-isolating, according to Clarence House. Camilla tested negative and remains in isolation until the end of this week, as recommended by the British National Health Service. Charles and Camilla have isolated at Birkhall, their home in Scotland on the Balmoral estate.
Highgrove House, which was built between 1796–98 in a Georgian neoclassical style, has been the family home of Prince Charles since 1980.
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