Inside the key issue ravaging Camilla and Prince Charles’s Royal Highgrove garden

Inside the key issue ravaging Camilla and Prince Charles’s Royal Highgrove garden


Camilla speaks to Monty Don in Gardeners' World appearance

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Known for their love of gardening, the Royal Family are a rather green-fingered bunch, though that hasn’t stopped voles pining for Camilla’s autumn harvest at Highgrove Gardens. In a recent episode of Gardeners World, the Duchess of Cornwall revealed that the beloved garden at her official residence had been paid a visit by an unwanted guest – proving that even the royals can’t fight off every garden pest. But what is the royal solution to these autumnal pests?

When featured on Gardeners World back in late August, Camilla enlightened Monty Don on the value of our gardens during lockdown.

She said: “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.

“It was a sort of spiritual experience for them, they discovered a sort of affinity with the soil – 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.”

The Duchess of Cornwall shared insight into her own garden at the stunning country estate Highgrove Manor, Gloucestershire.

Stretched across 15-acres of land, Highgrove Gardens boasts a completely organic landscape.

While the scale of the royal pair’s exquisite country gardens is nothing short of astonishing, their vole-problem is something a little more down to Earth.

No matter your royal status, it seems that gardening comes with the same obstacles experienced by many of us across the UK.

While wandering through Monty’s Herefordshire garden, Camilla confessed that voles had ravaged the strawberries and asparagus roots in her own garden.

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What are voles?

Voles are small mammals that are most active during the autumn and winter months.

These nocturnal creatures are partial to a nibble on your garden plants and are particularly attracted to vegetable patches or fruity planters.

Though they are not a common agricultural pest, they are known to populate in autumn and wreak havoc on your garden right through until the early signs of winter.

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What do voles eat?

As vegetarians, voles will make a beeline for pretty much any plant in your garden.

There are a few species of voles that dominate the UK (when they do decide to appear), including short-tailed voles, bank voles and water voles – though these are the least common.

According to Which?, they are known to be particularly attracted to:

  • Bulbs
  • Corms
  • Tubers
  • Tulips and crocuses
  • Brassicas
  • Roots – beetroot and potatoes
  • Soft fruit

Though we can’t blame them for wanting to get their hands on some royal grub, voles can be quite damaging to your autumn harvest so keep an eye out between now and the new year for damage to your crops.

It’s likely that Camilla’s garden sanctuary at Highgrove garden was ravaged by short-tailed voles, which are a greyish-brown colour.

The short-haired vole breeds all summer and is active in the daytime right about now – going a little quieter in the winter months.

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