After 14 years of work on the garden of The Prince of Wales’ Scottish home, flooding has washed away all the restoration work.
Last week during an impromptu visit to Ballater, Prince Charles told a butcher in the flood-hit Aberdeenshire town that the gardens at Birkhall were “devastated” when a river broke its banks.
While he put on a brave face saying that is was the “least of his worries” and that he was “more concerned about the people” whose homes and businesses were damaged by the water, sources have said that the garden loss was “personally distressing” as he himself made many of the improvements.
Birkhall was a particular favourite garden of the late Queen Mother, who used the home as her summer residence. She started to use it after the death of King George VI in 1952 then put plans in that they made during the 1930s to update the gardens.
The house is located on high ground to the north of the River Muick, a tributary of the Dee, and close to a waterfall. The heavy rain over the weekend also left an area of the garden underwater and a section of road near the guarded entrance to crumble away into the river.
Prince Charles and Camilla spent New Years at the home and were still in residence as of yesterday.
The heir to the throne’a garden was destroyed after Britain experienced some of its worse floods in recent times, with some cities being totally overrun by flood water.
Prince Charles recently released a £40,000 grant to help the victims of the floods.
John Sinclair, a butcher who lost £40,000 of meat in the floods and holds Royal Warrants for the Charles and Queen Elizabeth.
Mr Sinclair said: “As soon as I came to the door Camilla came across and said ‘I’m so sorry John to hear of your tragedies’ and ‘it must have been terrible’.
“I asked how Birkhall was. He said OK although the garden was devastated, but that was the least of his worries. But he said the garden was badly damaged – though he was more concerned about the people.”
Public tours are not conducted in the two-acre garden, but in 2013, the public got a peek inside when it was featured in an edition of Country Life magazine that the prince guest edited.
At that time, Charles has said: “It is such a special place, particularly because it was made by my grandmother. It is a childhood garden and all I’ve done, really, is enhance it a bit.”
The terraced garden features the River Muick flowing through it and a gazebo was put up as a memorial to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Two water tanks catch the water running off the roof creating a 22,000-litre reservoir to water the roses, fruit trees and fruits and vegetables that are grown and supply the house.
Photo Credit: Alan Findlay [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons