We thought summer had forsaken us, and then wham! summer is right back. Hot, sunny and lots of bright blue skies.
And what could be more fitting on a weekend summer day than to head into the centre of London and enjoy a rare opportunity for a snoop around the gardens of Clarence House, the official residence of Prince Charles?
HRH is known as a bit of a gardening buff and an enthusiastic advocate for organic gardening, so nice to have a wander round the grounds and check out the planting. Lots of traditional English garden flowers, as well as plenty of exotic specimen plants (snowbell tree or pineapple guava, anyone?).
The gardens aren’t huge, but when you’re living this centrally in London, this is something I am sure Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are able to live with. One of the most charming features is a space created on the lawn under two large plane trees. This was apparently used as an outdoor reception space by the Queen Mother when she occupied Clarence House, and a tradition that Prince Charles continues today.
There were also a few stands in the garden – one by the Soil Association (who were handing out baby lettuce and rocket plants if you pledge to grow organic at home) and others with everything from new gardening techniques to projects to build sustainable gazebos in your own back garden (I have a window box – so not really relevant for me!). All that, and of course the obligatory visit to the gift shop. I now have a plant pot with the royal coat of arms on it!
I also loved the planting in the raised beds along one side of the House. While probably not the best thing to do with a historic building (damp?), there were a fascinating range of exotic plants, vegetables and fruit. Are those who are invited to stay at Clarence House fed with wonderful dishes using produce fresh from the garden? I hope so – there were some interesting-looking things in there.
And finally…I loved the little slate plant markers dotted around the place. Some were just descriptive, others a little more informative. Quite charming.