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The Garden Party at Clarence House


By beattie


I’ve been away – did you miss me? I went up to London to help turn some of Prince Charles’ old curtains into reusable bags for people to take away free to use instead of plastic carrier bags. See for more details of that.

This blog is about the gardens. My OH and I took our minute caravan up to Epping Forest to sleep in. The rest of the time we were out commuting, helping members of the public to sew, admiring the gardens, looking at all the exhibits from all sorts of companies, green charities, schools, farmers’ markets.

It was headlined as “START, A Garden Party to Make a Difference” and is “a national initiative by The Prince’s Charities Foundation to promote and celebrate sustainable living.”

We had a super snug space in what I had expected to be a draughty, rattly marquee, but which turned out to be a lovely room in a temporary building placed in the garden of Marlborough House, next to St. James’ Palace.

And the very best thing was the view from our windows onto a fabulous drought resistant garden designed by Beth Chatto and staffed by people from each of the six water companies.

We had had to get security clearance beforehand and had to use a special entrance for exhibitors and artistes. We liked to arrive early while the gardeners were still at work and the show was uncrowded and relaxed to have a look round.

There were three gardens open for the event. Those in front of Lancaster House, Clarence House and Marlborough House. St. James’ Palace wasn’t open but its courtyard was the site for the main stage for performances, debates and talks.

This is Lancaster House -

Clarence House is Prince Charles’ London home

As we all know, His Royal Highness is very keen on gardening and has a Royal Vegetable Plot in his garden -

And a wildflower meadow, but not all of us have blue velvet ropes round ours.

There were interesting displays on the front of Clarence House itself -

A potting shed looking romantic and attractive

Great ideas for planters connected to your downpipes -

These are plastic milk bottles, cut off and with herbs growing in them

Veg growing in troughs made of guttering

And other planter ideas

I loved the lettuce door – it had holes for yoghurt pots – great use of space!

This is Marlborough House where we were “working” -

We got in early one day and found the gardener in charge of the drought resistant garden watering it – which made us smile! :-)

But it just goes to show that any newly planted garden needs careful watering til it’s established, just as Bamboo says!
(And I found out afterwards that it was just a temporary installation with all the plants in pots, buried in bark and top dressed with gravel. For some unaccountable reason the owners of Marlborough House didn’t want a drought resistant garden as a permanent feature. Well I would! )

Different planters –
Lancaster House

Clarence House

We had so much fun we stayed on longer than originally planned – we had said we’d help until Friday 17th but actually stayed til the end and helped with the breakdown too.

Would I do it again? Oh yes :-). And I hear that it’s on the cards that there’ll be another one next year, but I hope it will be publicised more widely. And maybe the entry fee will be a bit smaller – at £15 per person I thought it was rather expensive.

But if you want to be involved you could always encourage your local school to have a stand, or rope in your local environmental green organisation….
Maybe I’ll see you there. :-)

More blog posts by beattie

Previous post: The Volcano - not the one in Iceland

Next post: Worst case scenario



Very very interesting Beattie, loved it, thanks so much, going into favs, loved the recycling and unusual pots etc. Most enjoyable blog.

22 Sep, 2010


great blog, love these photos. Please can I have a piggy bank like that one?

22 Sep, 2010


Love the blog Beattie, well done :o)

23 Sep, 2010


Yes, I did miss you ....
glad you were having such a good time....
well done on the sewing, and
your photos are very interesting...
... lovely gardens ..
adding to GoYpedia Feature Ideas :o)

23 Sep, 2010


Thank you for your kind comments. I had a really good time :-) in so many different ways, and wanted to share the pics of the gardens which are very rarely open to the public.

23 Sep, 2010


Yes, that really was a great blog, thank you. Love the planting ideas! I live close to Highgrove and have been round that garden a couple of times, very eclectic! Adding this to my favourites!!

23 Sep, 2010


This blog is really interesting Beattie, thanks so much for giving us a peep at such select and unseen gardens. No, I don't have a blue velvet rope round my grass either but then I can't really call it a lawn! Lots of interesting ideas and a shame the drought resistant garden was only temporary. Not surprised you stayed longer than planned. A great blog :o))

23 Sep, 2010


Beattie...your blog was so interesting and your photos really show the event and gardens off so well. I am intrigued by one of the containers in your photo (the 1st one) looks like a milk I mistaken? The door with the lettuce is an unusual use of an old door....we've got an old door so maybe I should recycle it before the fence contracters remove it.

I've seen (in photos) an old dresser planted up with flowers and wondered how effective it would be due to the low depth of the drawers. It appears it is working fine with the vegetables. I like the idea very much.

Thanks for posting such a wonderful blog, Beattie. I can see why you'd want to return again next year!

23 Sep, 2010


Whistonlass, there were plants growing in everything you can think of. I didn't make a mental note of it, but that looks like a milk (or beer?) crate with Lollo Rosso in it. I don't know how long furniture (chest of drawers or a dresser) would last out in the rain. I expect the joints would give way in a year or two and plywood would delaminate in less time, but they're eye-catching while they last.

23 Sep, 2010


I should give it a try....the milk crate. We have one going spare since retiring from our newsagent's business and it's a pain. I keep moving it from place to place and hubby says....keep makes a good stepping frame for reaching up to water the hanging baskets! They say there's a use for

I can only assume it would need to be lined, else the soil would all escape. I, like you Beattie, wondered about the durability of a dresser in the garden but I have a rather sheltered spot that I think might work once the back garden is sorted out. A project for spring....2 projects even....milk crate and dresser! lol

23 Sep, 2010


Thanks for the pics Beattie - love the chest of drawers! Events ran away with me and I ran out of time, I did have the intention of going if I could. If I'd known about it much earlier, I'd have planned for it. Maybe next year. That last pic showing the beautiful planter, I love it. One question though - I keep seeing this OH thing in people's blogs, etc., and I realise it refers to your husbands, but what on earth does OH actually stand for?

23 Sep, 2010


OH = Other Half - it could mean "husband", "wife", "partner" - of opposite or same sex. It covers all bases without being specific. I use it when I don't want to give any extra information away. ;-)
I had to ask what MIL meant when I first saw it ("Mother-in-law" is the answer)

As I wrote earlier, I do hope there is another garden party, but I hope the publicity will be better next time. The only ads I know about were in the Daily Telegraph, which offered a discount on prebooked tickets for parties, and an ad in a London evening paper that my SIL saw.

Still, the organisers can build on this year's success and increase the profile of next year's event.

23 Sep, 2010


Duh, of course its obvious now you've told me....

23 Sep, 2010


Thanks for a really interesting blog. Lots of original ideas for growing vegies, in particular. Drought resistant garden: yes, something to take seriously, it seems to me. And not just as a temporary display!

23 Sep, 2010


Lovely blog and pics Beattie . I too really like the chest of drawers and the drought resistant garden :-))

24 Sep, 2010


Hi Beattie, sorry so late, but still trying to catch up with everything. Brilliant blog, on my favs to look at at leisure. I never knew about this either, it all looks fantastic, you would think there would be coaches and everything from across the country, and surely they could have all sorts of free publicity. :-))

25 Nov, 2010


Thank you Bornagain! I'm glad you found the blog, and found it interesting as well. I couldn't understand how they couldn't have got the advertising for the event organised as well as the event itself was. I hope that the second time around (if there is one...) that it will get more press coverage and more pre-publicity. I got the impression that the "punters" the organisers were aiming for was somewhat upper class, and there just weren't enough of them.

25 Nov, 2010


That leaves me out then lol:-)

25 Nov, 2010


Just googled, what a brilliant idea Morsbags is. I see no reason not to ban plastic ones:-)

25 Nov, 2010


That leaves all of us out, I reckon! :-)

There are pages and pages of posts on the Garden Party on the morsbags forum at
from Pol telling us we'd been invited, organising our part of it, to reports and pics from people who'd been "working".

You're right, morsbags are a stroke of genius! Take something that's not used any more (old curtains and duvet covers) make them into useful bags and give them away free so that people don't need plastic bags. It wins on so many levels! :-)

25 Nov, 2010


Great blog, loved it, many thanks, TLG

13 Feb, 2011


Gosh, it seems like a long time ago! Thanks for your kind comment TLG! :-)

13 Feb, 2011


WOW Beattie, thank you for the reply to my kaffir lilly, its opened up a whole new world!! what a lovely blog, I so enjoyed reading it thank you for taking the time to share it with us lowly patch gardeners lol x

23 Feb, 2011


Thanks Patricia, it seems like a very long time ago now! If they do another one I'll be volunteering again. We both (my OH came too) found it very tiring commuting, though we got used to it again after a week or so. (Being escapees from London, some decades ago.)

I'm sure your kaffir lilies will thrive - I find they're very robust.

23 Feb, 2011


Beattie - this is great. some very clever ideas with containers. The door with the lettuces and youghurt pots. How exactly does that work, as the door is at an angle to the wall. Very clever imaginative and eye-catching - also the upturned milk bottles with herbs. Thanks for this - very worthwhile viewing

11 Mar, 2011


I think the door was leaning against a low frame - you can see a bit of it in the shot of the back of the door. There is a stout bit of wood (horizontal) against the back of the door. If it also had a "toe piece" in front holding the bottom of the door so it couldn't swing up it would be fairly stable, barring hurricanes.

11 Mar, 2011


And the ladder arrangement is a perfectly suitable feature...funnily enough I had an idea to use my step ladder as a prop the other day (running out of pots) but it wouldn't work - the rungs of my ladder aren't the right shape or size to take pots comfortably - I tried a few.

11 Mar, 2011


I think the "ladder" is actually a "whatnot" - a triangular shelf unit made to fit in a corner. My granny had one in the front parlour (that we almost never went into).

11 Mar, 2011


yes I see now - a purpose built prop. What did your Granny use it for in the parour ? - to stack stuff presumably

12 Mar, 2011


...sorry the "l" on my keyboard is playing up - most annoying - "parlour" that is....

12 Mar, 2011


I think I only went in the "special" front room, the parlour, about twice. The curtains were kept almost closed all the time. Maybe some photos in frames, knick knacks, ornaments (a step up from "A Present from xxxx" vases)?

12 Mar, 2011

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