The Prince of Wales recounts childhood fondness for palace gardener

The Prince of Wales (left) with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Prince of Wales (left) with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (Chris Jackson/PA)
PA Wire

The Prince of Wales has spoken about his fondness for a “splendid” gardener who helped him and the Princess Royal with their “little garden” during their childhood.

Speaking to Poet Laureate Simon Armitage Charles said he and his sister Anne had a “little vegetable patch” and had “great fun” as youngsters trying to grow tomatoes.

And he said there was “nothing to beat” eating homegrown food, as he suggested it is important to encourage children to grow their own produce.

The prince said: “My sister and I had a little vegetable patch in the back of some border somewhere. We had great fun trying to grow tomatoes rather unsuccessfully, and things like that.”

He went on to tell Radio 4’s The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed: “There was a wonderful head gardener at Buckingham Palace, he was called Mr Nutbeam, rather splendidly.

“He was splendid, and helped us a bit, my sister and I, with the little garden we had.”

He added: “There’s nothing to beat, is there, I think, eating what you have grown? This is another reason why I always feel it is so important to find ways of encouraging children to grow vegetables and things at school.”

The Prince of Wales (left) with Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, during a meeting at his Welsh home in Myddfai, Wales (Chris Jackson/PA)

Later, discussing younger generations’ attitudes to the environment, Charles said: “I don’t want to be confronted by my grandchildren and other people’s grandchildren saying ‘why didn’t you do something when you could?'”

The prince also told how the late poet Ted Hughes who he “so admired and got to know a little bit”, had given him advice on how to remember the names of plants.

He told Mr Armitage: “I remember I said to him once ‘I cannot remember all the names of these plants, it drives me mad’.

“He said ‘Ah, what you need to do is’ – typical, wonderful poet, only a poet could think like this I think – ‘you have to see what the name conjures up, what image does it give you in your mind?’

“And then he said what you’ll find, if you practise, and this is my problem, is practising it, then you have the word association with the image that you created and that will bring it back to your memory far better than a word will.”

Charles’ Welsh home, Llwynwermod, was the backdrop for the talk, which also saw the men speak about Charles’ fondness for trees and the need for their protection in the face of diseases in species such as ash and elm.

They also spoke about mankind’s relationship with the planet, with Charles saying: “I think we are at a point of rediscovering now, rather late in the day, the importance of reconnection and of understanding that we are a part of nature, not apart from it.”

The conversation features in Mr Armitage’s The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed, which will air on Radio 4 and BBC Sounds at 7.15pm on Saturday August 28.

The interview is the last in the series which has included talks with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Jo Wiley, and The Smiths’ guitar player Johnny Marr.

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