PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Personal Playpen

2/11/2010
Deb Goodenough, Head Gardener: 
The History of The Gardens At Highgrove

Sponsored by The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

“He’s 61 years old, and he hasn’t started his real job yet.”

This is how Deb Goodenough, Head Gardener at Highgrove described her boss, HRH, The Prince of Wales.  Here’s a guy with arrersted development issues:  his own mother has prevented him from taking his rightful place in society.  I don’t want to speculate on how this has affected him personally, but in terms of the garden he has created at Highgrove, it presents some interesting questions.

What happens when even the sky isn’t the limit? When you indulge every whim that ever entered your head, what kind of garden do you make?  When you wake up in the morning, even before coffee; call in your Head Gardener and give the order to rip out the previous black and white garden, previously the rose garden, previously the knot garden and make it into a pink, purple and blue garden; do you ask yourself why?

Deb Goodenough, Head Gardener to HRH gave a well thought out and interesting talk about the history of Highgrove on Thursday night.  Showing some early archival photographs of the estate, she presented a featureless landscape, which HRH has turned into a landscape populated with features.

15 acres of gardens on 1800 acres of property, I saw nothing at Highgrove,  I wanted to emulate.   When reading about or visiting a great garden (take Villa Lante, for instance), I often covet many aspects of the garden. Nada at Highgrove.  Instead, I admirerd HRH as a keeper of traditions, as well as implementer of 21st century sustainable technology.

Goodenough talked about many traditional gardening techniques being preserved at Highgrove by having elder teach younger.  Hedge laying alongside rainwater collection make both preservationist and ecologist happy.

Maybe having limitations, makes us better gardeners after all.  We have to concentrate on relatively small spaces, narrow down aesthetic choices and live with some bad decisions.  We can’t all be princes.  But, just once I wouldn’t mind being called HRH.

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