Join us for an exclusive Private Visit to the Royal Gardens at HM The King’s Estate at Highgrove, with Champagne Afternoon Tea: the date is Monday, September 18, 2023: fully booked

This event is fully booked and a waiting list has been created. To join this, please call Member Services on 020 7399 2960.

We are pleased to announce that our Members are invited to an exclusive Private Visit to His Majesty King Charles III’s Estate, Highgrove in Gloucestershire, on Monday, September 18, 2023. We shall enjoy a Private View of the Royal Gardens and a delicious Champagne Afternoon Tea.

What could be more delightful than to be here at Highgrove and to see these magical Gardens as part of a small party of invited Members? Our visit will be in a small party of only eight—a truly private view! And of course September is the ‘fifth season’ in this amazing garden, a joyous time of autumn fruitfulness. The King has spent more than 30 years creating one of the finest, most pleasurable gardens in England, and this is a time of striking colour contrast, busy harvesting, planning and planting. It will be a joyful and instructive time to be there.

The  one-and-a-half-hour Gardens tour will be preceded by a delicious afternoon tea, toasting the occasion with a chilled glass of Highgrove Champagne. This will be followed by our private guided tour of the Gardens, accompanied by His Royal Highness’s expert garden guide, happy to share their inside knowledge.

From the moment you walk between the impressive pillars at the Garden entrance you begin a journey which reveals one delight after another, each setting giving a glimpse of this wonderful English garden, underpinned by the Prince’s personal taste and philosophy. While various fine gardeners, including Lady Salisbury, Rosemary Verey and Dame Miriam Rothschild, made their contributions, the Prince is hands-on: notwithstanding the small army of gardeners who lovingly tend the garden day by day, it is King Charles who visualises the vistas and makes the decisions.

And as the King says, ‘I have gardened . . . from a painter’s perspective. Each part of the garden is a separate ‘painting’ and the result of ceaseless walking, ruminating and observing those moments of magic when the light becomes almost dreamlike in its illuminating intensity. It is in those moments when you are lost in wonder that such beauty is possible and inspiration can come …’

It is this beauty that we shall see for ourselves, literally as well as figuratively in the footsteps of the King. When he speaks of the ‘excitement’ of the garden, and how the longed-for arrival of a particular plant ‘becomes a treasured feature of one’s existence’, it is clear that the garden holds deep meaning for His Majesty. This, after all, is his own home garden, where his son and heir William spent his formative years. As the Prince says, ‘The Garden is an expression of what I hold dear.’ If you want to understand the King, what makes him tick, how he works, his deep loves, private passions and quiet reflections, the Garden at Highgrove is where the King’s soul is laid bare. It is also a measure of the practical man: here are broad visions and also minor details, ideas with which to transform our own gardens, or simply to enjoy the beauty of an English garden and the creative spirit of the King.

Highgrove, as with all great gardens, does not reveal its charms all at once. Each garden room contains its own private pleasures, then takes the viewer on to the next scene, with the House sometimes the focus, at others glimpsed through the trees. Close at hand are the Terrace Garden, the Cottage Garden, Thyme Walk, Lily Pool Garden, Sundial Garden and Carpet Garden. Farther afield come the Walled Garden, the Model Fruit Garden, the Cutting Garden, Azalea Walk, Lavender Orchard, Southern Hemisphere Garden, the Woodland Garden and Arboretum, which are spectacular at this time of year.

Among the characteristics of these uniquely different gardens there is humour: as in the Ego Garden. And pathos: the memorial to Her Majesty The Queen Mother. Strong architectural features: the Temple of Worthies, The Sanctuary and the Wall of Gifts. Some eccentricities: The Stumpery, for one. And National treasures and rarities abound. Highgrove hosts national collections of beech trees, at their best at this time of year, and large-leaved hostas, among others.

Many English rarities are grown, including varieties now virtually extinct. Underlying it all is the King’s deep-felt conviction that his garden must be self-sufficient, with emphasis on water conservation, green waste recycling, natural pest control and organic fertilisers, as well as extending the seasons. As such, the garden works on all levels: beautiful to the eye of any beholder, and an inspiration to gardeners wishing to benefit from the King’s experimentation over more than three decades.

Wildlife thrives in this environment; from songbirds to butterflies, beetles, newts and bees. The King is justifiably proud of his Garden, and a September afternoon will be the perfect moment to see Highgrove in a glorious English autumn. The soft light gives the garden a transcendent beauty, and various plants, trees and shrubs are only now showing off their riches, for example, the Japanese maples providing swathes of red tones, their colour peaking in September; the leaves of deciduous azaleas turning gold and orange; and late blooming perennials displaying their finery.

The fruit and vegetable harvest is in high gear at this time of year. The gardens are totally organic and in order to grow full flavour vegetables and fruits, a variety of strategies are set in place—all of which will be revealed to us. One of the methods used includes feeding the plants with comfrey tea! Sustainable, beautiful and productive, it is incredibly impressive that the Kitchen Garden keeps the whole estate self-sufficient in fresh fruits and vegetables, with crops for the King’s table—and our own for our Champagne afternoon tea—the rows and beds of vegetables: sweet onions, courgettes, potatoes, beans and autumn-fruiting raspberries which look too beautiful to pick. There are plump espaliered apples, pears, gages, peaches and plums lining the walls, grown at just the right height to pick and test their ripeness. This is a garden which changes constantly, and continues to inspire.

As the King moves back to royal duties in London after the summer, he leaves his lasting thoughts: ‘My enduring hope is that those who visit the garden may find something to inspire, excite, fascinate or soothe them.’

We shall attend Highgrove Gardens (Doughton, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8TN) on Monday, September 18, 2023, for our Champagne afternoon tea followed by private gardens tour. This will be a delightful occasion and at the exclusive price of only £99.50 per person including VAT. We know it will be a popular event with our Members, and numbers are of course even more limited than usual, so please don’t delay: Please click here to make immediate reservations, or call Member Services now on 020 7399 2960!