The Duchess of Cornwall has spoken of her struggles with strawberries and asparagus
The Duchess of Cornwall has been experiencing familiar gardening challenges, revealing to Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don that uninvited guests had invaded her vegetable patch and eaten her produce.
Camilla, in a guest appearance on the BBC Two programme, told how mice and, in particular, voles had devoured her strawberries this year and eaten the asparagus roots she planted.
The duchess, who toured Don’s garden Longmeadow in Herefordshire, spoke of how gardening became a “spiritual experience” for many during the pandemic, and said she has started to develop her own woodland garden.
Discussing the tiny rodent culprits, keen gardener Camilla said: “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 is not alone. The Royal Horticultural 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 noticed, but mice and voles can reproduce rapidly under good conditions, leading to population explosions and damage to plants.
In lockdown, there was a surge in inquires about rodents, with experts suggesting people were more likely to notice the signs at home because they were spending more time there.
Rising rodent activity could be part of a longer-term trend owing to warmer winters over recent years, which has allowed rodent populations to increase. In Australia, vast tracts of land in New South Wales were devastated by an unprecedented mouse plague earlier this year.
The duchess, whose husband the Prince of Wales is a passionate gardener, said gardening had played an essential role in people’s wellbeing during the Covid-19 crisis.