Friday 23 September 2022 05:59 PM King Charles' ex-gardener blasts Isle of Wight Ventnor Botanic Garden as ... trends now
King Charles's former gardener has launched a stinging attack on a celebrated botanic garden whose 'rewilding' project he says has turned it into a 'monoculture of weeds'.
For 50 years, Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight has been a renowned destination for plant lovers thanks to its unique warm micro-climate.
But in recent months it has faced heavy criticism after its owner was accused of letting it fall into disrepair while pioneering a new approach he said was intended to deal with climate change.
American businessman John Curtis has defended his so called 'Ventnor method' under which he says the garden is 'transitioning' from the methods of traditional horticulturists and creating 'synthetic ecosystems' instead.
David Pearce, the former kitchen gardener at the King's private residence of Highgrove in Gloucestershire, has dismissed the hands-off approach to maintenance as being nothing more than a 'greenwashing smokescreen'.
David Pearce, 25, the former kitchen gardener at the King's private residence of Highgrove in Gloucestershire said the 'rewilding' project on the botanic garden on the Isle of Wight turned it into a 'monoculture of weeds'
Then-Prince Charles with Camilla and TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh visiting the Botanic Garden in 2009
'Through my recent visits, it is clear that Ventnor Botanic Garden is becoming a monoculture of weeds,' said Mr Pearce. Pictured: Dying plants at the garden
Before: Subtropical palms and aloes growing in terraced scree garden, in botanic gardens with sheltered microclimate at Ventnor Botanic Garden
After: Recent pictures of the gardens show trees with brown and dead leaves and the paths strewn with overgrown vegetation
In a letter to the Island's local newspaper, the 25 year old - who trained at the botanic garden between 2016 and 2018 - said: 'This "experimental trial" practiced at Ventnor Botanic Garden is being hailed as the future of gardening, and a solution to climate change.
'However, I believe it lacks any of the scientific backing to make it a viable and supportable scheme. Even if it was, no one should be experimenting to the detriment of a scientifically important collection of plants.
'The world-renowned botanic garden and its extensive collection of plants, invaluable to science, was simply handed over to someone who had zero experience working in gardens.
'Through my recent visits, it is clear that Ventnor Botanic Garden is becoming a monoculture of weeds.'
Mr Pearce trained with Royal Horticultural Society and now runs the historic garden of Whatley Manor, a 12-acre arts and crafts garden and 5-star country house hotel.
He added: 'I believe the Ventnor Method is a greenwashing smokescreen used to hide the lack of financial input made.
'It is clear this experiment has begun to be at the expense of a well-loved visitor attraction, educational centre and internationally acclaimed plant collection.'
Criticism of the garden began earlier this summer when former curator Simon Goodenough returned to the site he looked after for 25 years to find it 'overrun with weeds' and 'completely run down'.
Mr Pearce criticised the experimental