London, July 3 (ANI): The Prince of Wales, Charles, has couple of fetishes that once left people laughing and cracking jokes about him.
But for Charles, flowers, plants and tress are serious personal business, especially on his three-decade-old Gloucestershire estate.
Thanks to his eccentric gardening habits, the Prince knows that he has 170 orchids in his wild flower meadow in Highgrove, up from 77 last year.
According to Debs Goodenough, his head gardener, the Prince also insists on pruning the trees himself, keeps a duck to eat the slugs and has wild thyme planted on the footpaths so that walkers can joke about walking through time.
He personally counts the tiny flowers, mostly southern marsh orchid and common spotted orchid, hidden in three acres of wild meadows and keeps a note of their progress.
In fact, the 11 gardeners rely on the Prince to find lost belongings in the flower beds because he is so familiar with the environment.
Goodenough, a Canadian who has been running the gardens for two years, said certain trees must be left for only the Prince to prune because he knows them "as individuals."
It is one of many personal stories connected to a garden that the Prince regards as a haven of calm in his hectic life.
The 13-acre estate is packed with personal mementos, including the childhood tree house of the Princes William and Harry and a bust of the Queen Mother in her gardening hat.
Gifts from around the world range from an ancient door donated by Indian nobles to a female 'leprechaun gnome' sent from Ireland to join her mate when the Prince married Camilla.
There are many eccentric touches such as the 100-year-old yellow yew hedges, that are clipped into bizarre shapes and often given suggestive names by the gardeners, and a tree full of hanging bird tables.
Goodenough said Charles regards the garden as an escape and insists even the driveway is allowed to grow over so his countryside home has a "soft, intimate" approach.
Highgrove is also an opportunity for the Prince to put into practice his belief about organic farming and the environment.
The weeding is all done by hand and the pest control by wildlife, including ducks to eat the slugs. (ANI)