We depart from London Gatwick today on our direct flight to Guernsey (flights and connections from regional airports and/or are overnight accommodation at Gatwick available on request). On arrival we transfer to our first visit to the private townscape garden at La Bigoterie, the home of Huw and Sarah Evans. The garden is laid out over spacious terraces offering spectacular views over the harbour and surrounding islands.
We continue to Candie Gardens, which have given pleasure to many since they were left to the people of Guernsey in 1887. The gently sloping upper lawn affords the visitor a panoramic view over St Peter Port and the neighbouring islands beyond. The Lower Gardens provide a rare example of a late 19th century Public Flower Garden as originally laid out, while the heated glasshouses date to the end of the 18th century, making them the oldest in the British Isles.
We then visit the private garden at Grange Court, where we enjoy a drinks reception to welcome us to the island. This large town garden in St Peter Port has a gorgeous rose garden, folly, cactus vinery and mixed borders set around rolling lawns, all immaculately maintained. It was the winner of the 2008 Island Garden Competition for the best perennial garden.
We end the day at our comfortable 3-star accommodation at La Barbarie Hotel in St Peter Port. The lovely rural location and award-winning restaurant make this one of Guernsey’s best hotels for relaxing short breaks.
Dinner is served in the evening.
After breakfast this morning we visit the private garden of La Petite Vallée, a mature three-acre garden with a wide range of exotic and traditional planting on the terraces and slopes leading down towards the sea. A stream, ponds and folly are some of the features of this fine garden.
In June, we visit Guernsey’s Orchid Fields, a series of small meadows, some of which are owned, leased or managed by La Société Guernesiaise. We enjoy a gentle walk, taking in their beauty whilst in full flower. Paths have been cut around the fields so we may easily enjoy and photograph the flowers. In September, we will instead visit Susie Dorey’s private garden in Castel, a recently developed garden with walled areas.
We then make our way to a very different garden – in Guernsey Prison. The prisoners and Horticulture team have established a formal garden in the grounds of the prison. We will get the chance to visit the greenhouses where prisoners grow their own crop, used daily in the prison kitchen.
Afterwards, we continue to Bruce Russell & Son, a wonderful workshop and showroom where they craft traditional silverware, gold, and platinum jewellery. During the last century, they have been commissioned to design and craft spectacular jewellery for royalty and heads of state.
We conclude today at the Victorian walled garden at Saumarez Park. Work to restore the walled garden is still in progress, but it is already producing well, yielding crops in varieties appropriate to the Victorian era. The garden has also gained several first prizes in the Northern Agricultural & Horticultural Society's annual show held in the park. Within the park is the National Trust of Guernsey’s Folk and Costume Museum, which illustrates the history of the people of Guernsey over the last 250 years through their costumes.
Dinner is served in the evening.
This morning we travel to Forest Lodge, the garden of Tattie Thompson, a member of Guernsey's National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens, who will accompany us as we wander through this medium sized garden which contains a wide variety of more unusual and tender, plants and shrubs.
We continue to The Guernsey Clematis Nursery, which produces a range of popular forms of clematis, along with many new and improved cultivars, and exports worldwide. Here, in what for many will be the highlight of the holiday, Raymond Evison will give us a personal tour of the nursery to see clematis breeding and production and a talk on how to grow and nurture clematis plants. Our tour ends with a drinks reception.
Dinner is served in the evening.
Following breakfast we transfer to the harbour at St Peter’s Port and depart by boat for the neighbouring island of Sark. More than twice the size of Herm at 2 square miles in area, Sark also bans motor vehicles and on arrival at the port we will be taken up the hill to the centre of the island by horse and cart. We visit the private garden of Mollie McKinley, upon our arrival. Mollie grows a wonderful selection of fruit and vegetables, and also keeps chickens. She usually sells the produce she grows at the gardens of our second visit today…
We continue to the gardens of La Seigneurie, which were created on land bought by Seigneur Le Pelley in 1835. The Walled Garden is aligned with the Church Le Pelley built in 1820 and the central arches framed a view of the tower, a scene now obscured by the new Island Hall. The high walls give protection from the wind and, together with the mild micro-climate, allow many tender and half-hardy plants to thrive. The more unusual specimens are labelled, such as the Australian Bottlebrush and New Zealand Tea Tree. Probably the oldest surviving feature of the original layout is the formal rose garden edged with box hedging. Other features include a Victorian glasshouse on the north wall which shelters some long-established vines; a productive vegetable garden which helps supply the café, and adjacent sensory and wildflower gardens.
We then continue to the luxurious Stocks Hotel, where overnight accommodation has been arranged and where dinner is served in the evening. After dinner, if weather conditions allow, we can enjoy the clear and starry night skies for which Sark is renowned.
After breakfast this morning we return by ferry to St Peter Port where we have some free time for shopping in. Guernsey’s capital has been a busy entrepôt since Roman times and the Channel Islands’ premier port, graced by the wealth of ship builders, privateers and merchant adventurers. Georgian and Regency styles were enriched by an influx of French emigrés, including Victor Hugo, whose influences included Parisian-style urinoirs! Today the town is a captivating blend of styles, framed by a tumble of terraces and tiered gardens and criss-crossed by worn steps and hidden alleys. There is an excellent range of shops, and the Old Quarter is the place to find antiques.
We enjoy a final visit to L'Etiennerie Farm in Castel, home to the private gardens of Tim and Eleanor Henderson. The informal country garden has herbaceous borders, a pond, potager, wild flower meadow and transfixing views over the Fauxquets Valley and surrounding countryside.
Afterwards we transfer to the airport in time to check in for our homeward flight.