George digs in to help Charles in garden at Highgrove


The Prince of Wales has been coaxing Prince George into following his gardening passion, helping him plant trees at his Highgrove estate.

Charles revealed he has encouraged his young grandson to become green-fingered by digging in "a tree or two" together at his family home near Tetbury, Gloucestershire.

The prince said he has also redesigned some of his gardens to become more child-friendly, even installing a maze at Dumfries House in Scotland.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 programme Gardeners' Question Time from Highgrove about his encouragement for two-year-old George, he said: "You never know, do you, what people are going to be interested in.

"The most important thing is I got him planting a tree or two here, so we planted it together and shovelled in the earth.

"That's the way, I think, when you are very small, and then each time they come you say, 'Do you see how much the tree has grown, or whatever?', and you hope that they take an interest."

His passion for gardening - a "marvellous, therapeutic business ... you can get reward from it but you can also be driven mad by it" - he said was sparked by pottering around in the garden at Buckingham Palace, where he tended a little plot near Constitution Hill, and also by spending time with his grandmother, The Queen Mother, at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.

He said: "I always like gardening - I hate to say this - from a child's point of view. It's a funny thing, because I have such happy memories of bits of garden at my grandmother's house.

"In Scotland and here I have tried to design it with what would appeal to a child; it is the paths and the interests.

"I have tried to do that at Dumfries House as well. We have made a maze now up there which is rather fun, and I adored a maze when I was young. You just put yourself in the child's position and sometimes it works."

Charles also revealed how an accident when he first started working on Highgrove's gardens with a "wonderful Irish character" around 35 years ago landed him in hospital.

He said: "I cut off the end of my finger banging in stakes and had to be taken to Swindon Hospital to have it sewn back on again."

The prince spoke of how the gardens at Highgrove have been a labour of love for more than three decades, explaining how he transformed them from a "rather empty and slightly bleak" spot.

He never had a "grand plan", but learned a lot by looking at other people's gardens - a habit which had a slight downside.

The prince said: "Every time I go to somebody else's garden I think, 'Bother, it is so much better than mine, how do they get their roses to do this? Why am I doing it?'"

Charles also spoke about how 14 years of work at his Birkhall residence in Scotland was ruined by floods that were a "horror" and "gouged out half the garden", leaving tree stumps used for a garden feature "half way up trees".

His favourite plants are delphiniums - "something about the Edwardian watercolours" - and he had some sage advice for young gardeners: "Take the rough with the smooth" and "don't despair".

:: Gardener's Question Time will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Friday.