Flowers got Charles and Camilla through lockdown - now mice are ruining their garden

·5 min read

Watch: Camilla appears on BBC's Gardeners' World

The Duchess of Cornwall, keen gardener Camilla, is having trouble with her veg patch. Like her husband, Prince Charles, she is a lover of the great outdoors and a familiar face at flower shows. 

She recently said: "In these difficult times, when we are all searching for something to brighten our lives, there is nothing that can lift our spirits more than our native flowers and plants. 

"They are nature’s healers...their glorious scents and myriad of colours are veritable life enhancers."

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits the Garden Museum to open the annual British Flowers Week festival in London on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Geoff Pugh / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits the Garden Museum to open the annual British Flowers Week festival in London, 2021 (Photo by GEOFF PUGH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier in the summer, the Duchess was out gardening to mark International Nurses' Day at the Whittington Hospital, planting and weeding with staff and nurses working for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, of which she's a patron.

In a speech during the February lockdown, she revealed her love of flower arranging, as well as growing. 

Though we are unable to enjoy many of the arts, we could all be inspired by this country’s glorious flowers and try our hands at creating our own arrangements," she said. "Happily, one of my favourite hobbies."

“Flowers, as you all know, truly are nature’s healers," Camilla added. "Their myriad scents and colours cannot help but lift the spirits."

It's a shame, then, that she's been struggling with pests lately - and we don't mean her husband's more troublesome relations.

Camilla and Monty Don discuss the pest problem
Camilla and Monty Don discuss the pest problem (PA)

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She told gardening guru Monty Don, on BBC's Gardener's World, that mice and voles have gobbled her strawberries this year and eaten the asparagus roots she planted.

Touring Don’s garden, Longmeadow, in Herefordshire, Camilla spoke of how gardening became a “spiritual experience” for many people during the pandemic, and explained that she has started to develop her own woodland garden.

"I’ve got a little bit of a woodland garden that I’ve started and I would love to build that up more. I would love to put down swathes of bulbs, and I would also like to have a proper wildflower meadow.

Camilla at Longmeadow, Monty Don's garden (PA)
Camilla at Longmeadow, Monty Don's garden (PA)

“At the moment I’ve got a bit, but the grass has sort of taken over and we’re going to have another go this year of planting more seeds, because I think, especially now, it’s ever more important to have these wild flowers – if we’re going to keep on attracting butterflies and bees.”

“I’m very lucky I’ve got a big vegetable garden," she added, "but you get the mice, the voles this year, all ate the asparagus roots and then they got into the strawberries, so you can never win, there’s always something.”

 Camilla continued, "I think gardens got people through Covid. They realised how special a garden was and what they could do with it, they could become inventive, even if they hadn’t before, they could start growing vegetables."

Waxing lyrical, she went on, "you can go into a garden and you can completely lose yourself, you don’t have to think about anything else, you’re surrounded by nature, you’ve got birds singing, you’ve got bees buzzing about – there is something very healing about gardens.”

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales admire flowers on display at Chelsea Flower Show in London (Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Camilla and Charles admire flowers on display at Chelsea Flower Show in London (Photo by © Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Camilla and Charles's Instagram account this week also shared images of the garden at Clarence House in London, captioned, "Visitors are welcomed to the gardens, designed by The Prince of Wales in memory of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother."

The pictures showed neat box hedges, a bee-friendly lavender garden and a mossy, pillared walkway. 

Prince Charles, a very keen gardener once mocked for talking to his plants, recently wrote in an introduction to a book on Highgrove's gardens:

"From the start it was my intention to try and create a garden that warmed the heart and soothed the soul; a place, if you like, of beauty and peacefulness; a garden based upon organic principles that would mark the turning of the year and the abundance and fruitfulness of nature in her many guises."

When Charles purchased the house in 1980, he has said, "There were no hedges; large open areas came right up to the house, with just a brown path that went round it."

TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14:  A Wild Flower Meadow Planted By Prince Charles At Highgrove, Country Home To The Wales Family  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
The wildflower meadow at Highgrove, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The Highgrove gardens are managed sustainably over 15 acres, while the garden at Birkhall, the couples' Scottish residence on the Balmoral estate, is know for its colourful flowers, grown by Camilla.

But even a green-fingered royal can't always control the vole. As she looked to him for advice, Don advised the Duchess: “I think you just have to accept that there are some things that are just not going to go for you this year - whatever it might be.”

True of gardening - and as the royals know, also true of life.

Camilla’s appearance on Gardeners’ World will be broadcast on BBC Two on Friday August 20 at 8pm.

Watch: Camilla: Charles is 'workaholic' in lockdown

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