Garden Visit: By Royal Appointment

Today was a day decreed by Royal Appointment: the ultimate of tweetups arranged by Patient Gardener for 25 of us take a tour round Prince Charles' private garden at Highgrove. Anna has already beaten us all to the scoop as she went round last week with her garden group. They waited 10 years for their visit, but ours was arranged in far less than 10 weeks as the arrangements for booking tours has been changed recently.

Our trip was very similar to what Anna has described already, except that we had the perfect day for it: sunny and almost too hot. Also, because Helen had warned them that there were some quite knowledgeable people in the audience who just might ask a tricky question or two, Highgrove had arranged for a volunteer guide who just happens to be a triple gold medal winner at Chelsea to show us around the gardens.

It was my second visit and just like last time we weren't allowed to take photographs. The last time I'd had the privilege of an evening reception on Midsummer's eve and a personally conducted tour by Prince Charles himself. 17 years later the garden has changed dramatically with many more garden 'rooms' added and the trees are much taller which made it much more enclosed in its feel.

As befits a tour group stuffed with garden designers, there were heated debates sometimes on the worthiness of some of the features. Our guide also tested us regularly on our plant knowledge: luckily @NewShoot managed to retain what little credibility we had left. Tea and cakes at the end was sufficient to restore harmony.

We'd had to arrive by minibus to take our tour as there's a limit on the number of vehicles per group. So afterwards we returned to our various vehicles in Tetbury where a car boot plant exchange ensued with various plants available from Patient Gardener, @RolandPatterson, Mutterings in the Shrubbery and Serendipity. The literal icing on the [pictured] cake were the ones which Lazy Trollop had made for us all.

Dinner with @xxxZoexxx and @DebBird the night before and meeting again with various other bloggers and tweeters from Malvern, Hampton Court, plus some welcome new faces ensured that I had a fabulous 24 hours. Thanks to Helen for arranging it all - she really needs to consider going into business as Johnstone's Tours!

If you would like to see Highgrove for yourself, full details are available on the website, which also gives you a flavour of what we experienced today. Don't worry if you can't get a group of 25 people together: the first and last tours of the day are called 'random' ones, made up from applications from individuals or smaller groups of people.


  1. great summary. I had forgotten about Johnstone tours - it might reappear next year, have a plan!

  2. That's a lovely summary of what sounded like a great day out. Shame I missed it, but hopefully one day I can come along with you all! I shall be in touch with Johnstone Tours ASAP!

  3. Blush!
    It was only cos I knew Amicia had a 'z' in it...Amicia zygomeris!

  4. Lousy garden but what a great day out with such a fun and interesting group of people.

    AND with Cabbage Cake - what more could anyone ask? (Well,I know, a better garden maybe...)

    Yey, more Johnstone Tours ASAP!

  5. I am so envious of all the company! Sorry I couldn't make it but thanks for the blog. That cake looks fabulous too.

  6. anyone who can whip up 25 cabbage cakes is someone i wouldn't call 'lazy' ;)

  7. Thanks for the resume and the mention. Was certainly an entertaining day with a suitable guide for the job.

  8. So glad that you escaped a royal drenching VP. It sounds as if you had a really memorable afternoon. What a gem of a little cake - most envious that I missed out.

  9. Wish I could have come too. Such a pity I live just a tad too far away. It's good to know that you all had such fun.

  10. PG - thanks. I agree with JAS' take on the actual garden

    Simon - she does a good line in them! I believe there may be more next year :)

    New Shoot - and we were looking at more of it at Malvern on Saturday

    Anne - I've just watched the programme on Highgrove and feel we went to a different garden!

    Elixabeth - Ms B makes exceedingly good cakes :)

    Petoskystone ;)

    Roland - and I forgot to thank you for all you did re finding the coach :(

    Anna - sound like you had a good trip when you went though

    Yolanda - it would have been great if you could have come!


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