Duchess of Cornwall reveals mice and voles ravaged her vegetable patch at Highgrove

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Duchess of Cornwall reveals mice and voles ravaged her vegetable patch at Highgrove
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The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed the struggle she has with rodents ruining her vegetable patch.

Camilla Parker Bowles and husband Prince Charles spent lockdown tending to their garden at Highgrove in Gloucestershire.

The Duchess compared gardening to a “spiritual experience”, which helped many through the pandemic. However, the couple saw mice and voles devour their produce.

In a guest appearance on the BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World, the royal said her strawberries and asparagus roots had been particular targets for hungry rodents.

“I think gardens got people through Covid,” she told presenter Monty Don.

“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.”

The duchess toured Monty Don’s garden Longmeadow in Herefordshire (PA)
The duchess toured Monty Don’s garden Longmeadow in Herefordshire (PA)

Discussing the tiny rodents, keen gardener Camilla added: “I’m very lucky I’ve got a big vegetable garden, but you get the mice, the voles this year, all ate the asparagus roots and then they got into the strawberries, so you can never win, there’s always something.”

Don advised the Duchess: “I think you just have to accept that there are some things that are just not going to go for you this year, whatever it might be.”

The Duchess was not alone in her rodent problems.

During lockdown there was a surge in inquires to The Royal Horticultural Society about rodents, with experts suggesting people were more likely to notice the signs at home because they were spending more time there.

The society said four species of mice and voles - the wood mouse, yellow-necked field mouse, bank vole and short-tailed vole - can cause damage to gardens.

Most of the time population levels are relatively low and little plant damage is often noticed.

But mice and voles can reproduce rapidly under good conditions, leading to population explosions and damage to plants.

Rising rodent activity could be part of a longer-term trend owing to warmer winters over recent years which has allowed populations to increase.

Camilla appeared on the BBC’s Gardeners’ World (PA)
Camilla appeared on the BBC’s Gardeners’ World (PA)

The Duchess, who toured Don’s garden Longmeadow in Herefordshire, said she has started to develop her own woodland garden.

Camilla added: “I’ve got a little bit of a woodland garden that I’ve started and I would love to build that up more. I would love to put down swathes of bulbs, and I would also like to have a proper wildflower meadow.

“At the moment I’ve got a bit, but the grass has sort of taken over and we’re going to have another go this year of planting more seeds, because I think, especially now, it’s ever more important to have these wild flowers - if we’re going to keep on attracting butterflies and bees.”

Camilla’s appearance on Gardeners’ World will be broadcast on BBC Two on Friday August 20 at 8pm.

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