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Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, which is the family residence of the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is the focus of tonight’s Channel 5 documentary Secrets of the Royal Palaces. Since moving into the property in 1980, Charles has devoted much of his life to transforming the gardens that surround the house, and it has become a much visited site. It is described as having “some of the most inspiring and innovative gardens in the UK”, with tourists across the globe enjoying its beautiful sights.
Gardening legend Alan Titchmarsh, famous for reinvigorating the nation’s love with the outdoors, once confessed to the excitement he finds visiting Highgrove, and particularly its ever-changing dynamic.
Alan’s relationship with the Royal Family runs deep, as he regularly meets members of the Firm during visits to their gardens, as well as the Chelsea Flower Show.
And he detailed how personable Highgrove was, but also how it showed off characteristics of Charles, which had been added into the garden.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning in 2016, Alan said: “Any time of the year, you can see different things, and the thing I love most about Highgrove is this is one man’s garden.
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“It’s not been made by a committee, it’s one man’s passion and I reckon you can tell a lot about people when looking at their gardens.
“There are eccentricities about this garden. We’re in the woodland area at the moment, awash the meadows behind with daffodils, and here an enormous great pile of rocks.”
He added: “Now I’ve been coming here off and on for the last 25 years and I get different favourite bits. But there is a kitchen-garden here, a walled kitchen-garden, which produces fruit and vegetables that are used in house.
“This would make any gardener green with envy.”
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Charles’ affiliation with the outdoors, and particularly gardening, has been well documented since his move to Highgrove, and was clear about his ambition to settle in the idyllic house.
When he purchased the property more than 40 years ago, Charles said it was “stark and exposed, without a trace of shelter”.
He added in a 2014 interview with The Telegraph that it was “without a single flower bed beside the house”, so he wanted to “put my heart and soul into Highgrove”.
Originally owned by The Macmillans, it was a space the nearby pony club could use during summer camps.
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But it was soon transformed by Charles who “loves gardening”, whether it be the artistic, design or physical part of the pastime.
And due to his enduring love of reinventing the space, Charles even claimed it had impacted significantly on his health.
He said: “I have also put my back into Highgrove, and as a result, have probably rendered myself prematurely decrepit in the process.”
The Queen’s eldest son said it was “the idea of starting from scratch” that first attracted him to the retreat.
Charles continued: “I thought of the structure bit by bit, I never did a master plan.
“I eventually worked out what I thought was the way to go round the garden, because I wanted it to be a sort of journey into different compartments.”
The gardens have also continued his thirst to champion schemes that will protect the planet against climate change, and last year he offered seeds grown from Highgrove to a special “doomsday” project.
Wild meadow seeds were given to the Arctic “doomsday vault” in Svalbard, Norway, as part of the project to store essentials should the world end.
They will be joined by onions from Brazil, central Asian guar beans, as well as hundreds of others stored in the safe.
At the time, Charles said it was “more urgent than ever that we act now to protect this [plant] diversity before it really is too late”.
Secrets of the Royal Palaces airs tonight on Channel 5 from 8.30pm.
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