Charles has spent the past 40 years transforming the estate - which has served as his private home with both Diana and the Duchess of Cornwall. Picture: Instagram

London - It has been one of his life’s greatest passions.

And these before and after images of Prince Charles’s gardens at Highgrove show just what a labour of love they have been.

When he acquired the 18th-century countryside retreat and estate near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, in 1980, it had only a kitchen garden, an overgrown copse, some pastureland and a few hollow oaks. 

Charles has spent the past 40 years transforming the estate - which has served as his private home with both Diana and the Duchess of Cornwall.

These archive photos were released by Clarence House to mark the 25th anniversary of the gardens opening to the public.

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⬅️ Swipe to see photos of @highgrovegarden from the early days to today 🌱 #Highgrove25 The Prince of Wales moved into Highgrove in 1980 and HRH wanted the garden and the farm to be run on organic principles. 🍃 📸 1: The Rose Pergola was built in 1998 in local Cotswold stone. The oak beams are draped with roses, Wisteria, Clematis and honeysuckle. 📸 2: The Terrace was one of the first gardens created at Highgrove and was designed by The Prince of Wales and Lady Salisbury. It contains plants chosen and planted by HRH. The pepper-pot pavilions, placed at the two corners of the terrace, were also designed by HRH. 📸 3: When The Prince first moved into Highgrove, the Thyme Walk was very sparse. The Golden Yews have now been clipped into geometric shapes and the path is covered with a carpet of Thyme originally planted by HRH.

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Charles has said: "One of my greatest joys is to see the pleasure that the garden can bring to many of the visitors."

Clarence House says the garden tours, along with events, retail and catering at Highgrove, have raised more than £7-million for charity - which supports projects to help the homeless, those who have experienced social exclusion and youth violence - with around 37 000 people visiting each year. The gardens are open from April to October.

Daily Mail