Natural Landscapes & Gardens of the Channel Islands: Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Burhou & Sark
St Helier, Jersey – 7 nights
Day 1: Friday 26 May, Arrive Jersey
Short Orientation Walk (time-permitting)
Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer from the airport to the hotel in St Helier on the island of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. Those taking alternative flights should meet the group at the Pomme d’Or Hotel.
St. Helier stands in St Aubin’s Bay on the southern side of the island and is named after Jersey’s first and most famous saint, a 6th century ascetic hermit who was martyred on the island in c. AD 555. The town is the capital of Jersey and has a population of about 28,000 – roughly one third of Jersey’s total population. While St Helier has a distinctive British atmosphere, the town retains numerous French influences as attested by the many streets that carry old French names and numerous shop fronts still displaying the names of their island founders. Depending on arrival times, a short orientation walk of the town will be conducted before time at leisure for dinner. (Overnight St Helier) B
Day 2: Saturday 27 May, Jersey
Walk around St Helier – Royal Square, Central Market & Church of St Helier
Le Clos du Chemin, St Peter
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust with introduction by Lee McGeorge Durrell
Eric Young Orchid Foundation
Welcome Talk: An introduction to the unique ecology of the Channel Islands
Welcome Evening Meal
Today we begin with a short orientation walk around the cosmopolitan harbour town of St Helier. Our walk includes a visit to the Central Market where we may purchase ingredients for our picnic lunch. This Victorian covered market includes a stunning array of overflowing flower stalls, fresh fruit and vegetables, cakes, wines and chocolates, dairy products made from the famous Jersey cow, and local specialties including des mèrvelles (small doughnuts), de nièr beurre (apple preserve) and cabbage loaf (bread baked wrapped in cabbage leaves). We also visit the Royal Square, where at its centre a stone commemorates the Battle of Jersey, which took place in 1781. We also visit the pink granite Church of St Helier, the largest of the parish churches. The seafront used to come right up to the church, and the square tower served as a useful observation post. The stretch of land between here and the sea was reclaimed from the end of the 18th century for town housing and warehouses.
Mid-morning we travel to St Peter to visit Le Clos du Chemin, the private garden of Mrs Susan Lea. Colour and texture reign in this garden, set on a hillside overlooking the bay. It features a glorious herbaceous border; a bed filled with plants in shades of silver; around twenty different types of magnolias, and an extraordinary ‘foxglove tree’ that sports vivid violet flowers in the spring.
We next visit the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, formerly the Jersey Zoo. Located in a 16th-century manor house and surrounded by 32 acres of park and farmland, Jersey Zoo was the realisation of a dream by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) to create a safe place for his animals. From the outset the Jersey Zoo was dedicated to breeding endangered species to ensure their survival. Many zoologists denounced Gerald’s early efforts at captive breeding but they are now universally acknowledged as an important weapon in the fight to save animals from extinction.
In 1963, Gerald turned his ‘zoo’ into a charitable trust, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which has established breeding groups of many species of endangered mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and has pioneered the return of their progeny to the wild. In Jersey, in the 50 plus years of the Zoo/Trust’s operation, Durrell’s has achieved many major breeding firsts. These include: Alaotran gentle lemurs, Rodrigues and Livingstone’s fruit bats, Rodrigues fodys, Madagascan flat-tailed tortoises, Round Island boas and Montserrat mountain chicken frogs. While most of us think of Gerald Durrell in connection with his best-selling book, My Family and Other Animals, which documented his earliest animal adventures and the antics of his family on the island of Corfu, Durrell’s greatest legacy has undoubtedly been in the field of animal conservation and the Trust he created on Jersey.
Durrell met his second wife, Lee McGeorge Durrell, in 1977 when he lectured at Duke University where she was studying for a PhD in animal communication. They married in 1979. She co-authored a number of books with him, including The Amateur Naturalist, and became the Honorary Director of the Trust after his death. Lee will talk about her late husband and his life’s work.
We end our day with a visit to the Eric Young Orchid Foundation. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful parish of Trinity and sitting within its own wonderful landscaped garden, this nursery and display complex houses one of the world’s finest collections of orchids. Jersey orchid breeders are considered amongst the best and this collection has won many awards.
This evening we will have a special evening lecture that introduces the unique ecology of the Channel Islands. This will be followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel, where we will enjoy a taste of Jersey’s marvellous local produce. (Overnight St Helier) BD
Day 3: Sunday 28 May, Jersey
Wildlife walk with Mike Stentiford: Le Noir Pré Orchid Field
National Trust for Jersey Wetland Centre, St Ouen’s Pond
Lunch at Restaurant Corbière Phare, St Brelade
Tour of St Ouen’s Manor Gardens with brother of Seigneur
The favourable climate of the islands, warmed all year around by the Gulf Stream, ensures that the Channel Islands have dynamic ecosystems, and each provides a sanctuary for a rich variety of flora and fauna. This morning we take an environmental wildlife walk with the ‘Birdman of Jersey’, naturalist Mike Stentiford who will introduce you to some of Jersey’s abundant flora and fauna. Mike was awarded an MBE in 2000 in recognition of the work he has done in promoting and introducing Jersey’s natural heritage to visitors to the island.
We begin early this morning with a visit to Le Noir Pré Orchid Field, whose meadows fringing St Ouen’s Pond, burst into colour at the end of May with over 40,000 blooming orchids. Often known simply as ‘the Orchid Field’, this unique site is one of the last remaining strongholds of the Jersey or loose-flowered Orchid (Orchis laxiflora), which also occurs in Guernsey, but is absent from the rest of the British Isles. In addition, three other species, the southern marsh (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), common spotted and heath spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata), occur at the site. The meadows also contain a wide variety of other plant species, many of which have become increasingly uncommon in Jersey. During May and June, the meadows are a riot of colour, with the stunning deep purple of the Jersey Orchids contrasting with the various shades of pink, through to white, of the remaining species. Other notable wildflowers include the ragged robin, yellow bartsia, parsley water-dropwort, common knapweed, square-stalked St. John’s-wort and tufted vetch. A wide range of insects can also be seen in the meadows, especially butterflies of various species, including the orange tip, whose caterpillars feed on cuckooflower, and dragonflies, including the spectacular emperor dragonfly. Small mammals such as voles, mice and shrews attract predatory birds, including the kestrel and the barn owl, and the rare marsh harrier can sometimes be observed hunting over the site.
We also make a visit to the new National Trust for Jersey Wetland Centre. Overlooking La Mare au Seigneur (St Ouen’s Pond), the centre acts as both a state-of-the-art bird hide and a wetland interpretation centre. The nature reserve contains an incredible mosaic of wetland habitats including reedbed, fen, wet meadow, dune grassland and the largest area of natural open water in Jersey. In addition to wildflowers, small mammals and green lizards, almost 200 bird species have been recorded at the site. It is one of the best places to view the majestic marsh harrier. Normally quite shy birds, at St Ouen they come very close to the viewing areas, and while they are present at the pond throughout the year, spring is a particularly good time to view their dazzling courtship ritual.
Midday we enjoy lunch at Restaurant Corbière Phare, known for its tasty food using fresh local produce, and magnificent sea views overlooking La Corbière Lighthouse.
After lunch we take a guided tour of St Ouen’s Manor Gardens. The traditional home of the Seigneur of St Ouen, and the ancestral home of the de Carteret family since the 11th century, the garden features an ancient Colombier (traditional dovecote) and walled garden. The walled garden and landscaped gardens are surrounded by a moat and stream flowing down to a wooded valley. The dramatic entrance arch next to the lodge leads to an avenue of majestic trees with huge trunks of ash, beach and oak above green verges. (Overnight St Helier) BL
Day 4: Monday 29 May, Jersey
Introduction to Jersey’s Prehistoric Sites by archaeologist Olga Finch
La Hougue Bie: prehistoric mound and dolmen
La Hougue Bie Museum & the ‘Jersey Hoard’
Mont Orgueil Castle, Grouville
Jersey became an island at the end of the second Ice Age as the land that once linked it to France was flooded. Neolithic people from the Mediterranean started to move north through France up to the coast of Brittany and eventually settlements appeared around the coast of Jersey. These early settlers brought with them a megalithic tradition of erecting stone monuments, known as dolmens or menhirs. They also introduced ‘passage’ graves where a narrow entrance and passageway led to a burial chamber providing a focus for spiritual beliefs. This morning archaeologist Olga Finch joins us to explain what the various Neolithic sites on Jersey signified to the indigenous population.
We begin by visiting the 6000 year-old burial site at La Hougue Bie. This prehistoric mound and dolmen is one of Europe’s finest Neolithic passage graves. Particularly significant at La Hougue Bie is the placement of its entrance; it points directly east and during the Equinox sunlight penetrates the passageway illuminating the chamber deep in the mound. The discovery of the Equinox alignment signified how important this time of year was to this past farming community and how critical cycles of nature were to its survival.
Nearby we will have the special opportunity to visit the La Hougue Bie Museum with one of the conservators who has been working on one of the newest and most important discoveries to be made in the Channel Islands – the Grouville Hoard. More commonly known as the ‘Jersey hoard’, this is a collection of over 10,000 Celtic and Roman coins that was found in 2012 by two metal detectorists. Work on the find is ongoing, but at this stage it is believed that the hoard belonged to the Curiosolitae tribe from Brittany who came to Jersey fleeing the armies of Julius Caesar in approximately 50 BC.
From megalith structures we next turn our attention to a medieval site, Mont Orgueil Castle. This iconic landmark commands a prime position overlooking the picturesque harbour at Gorey and the Royal Bay of Grouville. Blue Badge Guide Sue Hardy will guide our visit here, explaining how construction of the castle was begun in the 13th century after King John lost control of Normandy and how for 600 years Mont Orgueil Castle protected the island against French invasion. Although Elizabeth Castle replaced Mont Orgueil as the island’s premier defence station when it was decided an inland setting was safer to protect, Mont Orgueil remained the island’s secondary defence until it was decommissioned in 1907. (Overnight St Helier) B
Day 5: Tuesday 30 May, Jersey
St Matthew’s Church, (Glass Church), Millbrook
Creux Baillot Cottage Gardens, Leovill, St Ouen
Grey Gables, St Brelade
We begin today with a visit to St Mathew’s Church at Millbrook. While the exterior of this church scarcely merits a second look, its interior is a work of such beauty that even the Germans took care not to damage it during their occupation of the island. Often referred to as the Glass Church, St Matthew’s has wonderful Art Deco glass fixtures and fittings designed in 1934 by René Lalique (1860-1945). The work was commissioned by Florence Boot, Lady Trent, Lalique’s neighbour in the South of France. Lady Trent’s principle residence, however, was in Millbrook on the island of Jersey and the work was commissioned to honour her late husband Jesse Boot, founder of Boots the Chemist. Opalescent panels, a magnificent altar cross, a glass font – perhaps the only one to be found anywhere – the Jersey lily motif, and Art Deco angels make the church one of the Island’s treasures and arguably some of the finest work Lalique ever produced.
Mid-morning we visit the private garden of Judith Quérée at Creux Baillot Cottage. Judith and her husband Nigel bought the traditional stone house over 30 years ago. They’ve gradually created a glorious garden, crammed with unusual species of plants that thrive in the mild local climate. There are strange flowers that drip nectar, roses the colour of clotted cream, a burgundy-coloured buddleia and a mysterious mandrake: ‘Folklore says you should only pull it up at night when the spirit of the plant is asleep,’ says Judith. Her garden is divided into different ‘rooms’, with a cool boggy area complete with a rowing boat, and a hot, dry border that attracts scores of butterflies. Hanging from a mature tree are some ropes – a playground for the local red squirrels, which still thrive on the island. This garden is featured in both Hidden Gardens of the Channel Islands and 1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die.
This afternoon we visit the extensive gardens of Grey Gables, located in a peaceful, elevated position above La Haule Hill in St Brelade. Developed by the late Mrs Celia Skinner, the garden consists of a mixture of terraced and formal gardens with large areas of natural wood banks featuring many mature indigenous and specie trees including Australian tree ferns. There is also a well-stocked greenhouse, a herb garden and a vegetable area with fruit trees.
In the late afternoon we return to St Helier for an evening at leisure. (Overnight St Helier) B
Day 6: Wednesday 31 May, Jersey
Jersey War Tunnels, St Lawrence
Batterie Lothringen, Noirment Headland
Paris Church and Fishermen’s Chapel of St Brelade’s Bay
Le Coin, St Brelade (to be confirmed in 2017)
This morning we visit some of the German fortifications built on Jersey during World War II. The five years of German Occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II has had a significant impact on islander psyche. This, along with the material legacies left by the German Occupation, is now reflected in tourism on the islands. During their occupation the Germans built hundreds of reinforced concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, anti-tank walls and tunnels – all constructed for an invasion that never came. Such was Hitler’s belief that England would try to regain the islands, he sent to the Channel Islands over 20 percent of the material allocated to the so-called ‘Atlantic Wall’ – a line of massive defence works which stretched from the Baltic to the Spanish frontier – to turn them into ‘impregnable fortresses’. Following Germany’s defeat, islanders began the job of decommissioning and destroying this legacy, but now they are recognised as important heritage sites and considerable energy and money has been expended on conserving and interpreting them.
The Jersey War Tunnels were originally constructed as an ammunition store and artillery barracks, but were converted into a casualty clearing station known as Hohlgangsanlage 8 (often abbreviated to Ho8) or the German Underground Hospital. A huge workforce was needed to build the 1km network of tunnels and this was supplied by the Organisation Todt. More than 5,000 slave labourers were brought over to Jersey – Russians, Poles, Frenchmen and Spaniards. Conditions were terrible, although Russian and Ukrainian POWs were treated the worst, with cases of malnutrition, death by exhaustion and disease among them becoming common. Today the site is a museum, which through interactive displays tells the story of the Occupation.
Next, we head to the coast to Noirmont headland, the site of Batterie Lothringen, one of four naval artillery batteries installed by the Germans in the Channel Islands and bought by the States of Jersey after World War II as a permanent war memorial.
Following some time at leisure for lunch at St Brelade’s Bay, we visit the Parish Church and La Chapelle es Pecheurs (locally known as the Fishermen’s Chapel), which occupy the site of an original wooden church built by St Brelade in the 6th century. In the early centuries of Christianity it was common for a community, or a wealthy local family, to fund a chantry chapel. Here a priest could be paid to say prayers to keep the devil at bay and guarantee a path to heaven for the righteous. Originally it was thought that the name derived from the fishing guilds of the island, although it is also possible that pecheurs (‘fishermen’ in French) is a corruption of péchés (‘sinners’). A wooden structure may have existed on this site as the first church, however these churches were often burned down by pagan invaders. While the chapel appears older than the adjacent church, recent archaeological work suggests that it was constructed afterwards, probably during the 12th century. The chapel is built from the same material as was used in the parish church. Limpet shells from the bay were crushed and dissolved with boiling seawater. Until the 19th century, when the military fortifications were built in Jersey, it housed cannon for the local militia. It therefore survived the destruction of chapels at the time of the Reformation.
We end the day with a visit to the private gardens of Le Coin. Over the years Le Coin has been in the care of a number of notable owners including the Countess de Bretoy, who later bequeathed the property to Prince George Chasdervadzy. More recently it has been the home of the distinguished artist and collector Sir Francis Cook and his wife Lady Brenda. The grounds, which are entered via a magnolia tree lined driveway, extend over 5 acres and are based on the gardens of Monserrate in Portugal. They are also featured in Lynne Mary Jenner’s book Hidden Gardens of the Channel Islands: Jersey. (Overnight St Helier) B
Day 7: Thursday 1 June, Jersey
The Grove, St Lawrence (to be confirmed in 2017)
La Maison des Pres, St Peter
We spend today visiting two more private gardens. A unique and imposing mansion, The Grove, commands spectacular views down across its formal gardens to St Aubin and Les Minquiers Reef. Pathways and terraces lead to Mediterranean, Magnolia, Chinese and Japanese water gardens. With mature parkland trees, banks of rhododendrons and subtle planting, this is a truly remarkable garden to visit.
La Maison des Pres is the private garden of Lord and Lady Brownlow. Its fine selection of trees includes a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, and a Metasequoia (dawn redwood). A walk through the wildflower meadow allows us to note the lime trees around the border and the different windbreaks. After the informality of the meadow and orchard, there is a complete change as you enter the more formal garden. Here we find a giant Romneya coulteri (Californian tree poppy) and a delightful semi-circular summerhouse leading into Lady Brownlow’s ‘secret garden’, guarded by two actual-size reproductions of the celebrated terracotta warriors which were excavated in Xian, China. (Overnight St Helier) B
St Peter Port, Guernsey – 7 nights
Day 8: Friday 2 June, Jersey – Guernsey
Fly from Jersey to Guernsey
Hauteville House, home of Victor Hugo / time at leisure in St Peter Port
This morning we depart Jersey and fly across to Guernsey, where we will be based for the next six days. From 933AD Guernsey was part of Normandy, forging a link between Britain and France that survives locally on the island in Norman Law, surnames and D’gernésiais, the local language. When in 1066 William of Normandy (‘William the Conqueror’) became King of England, Guernsey was linked to the English Crown. Guernsey remained an English possession after King Philippe Augustus of France took back the mainland of Normandy from King John in 1204. Guernsey prospered particularly from the 18th century when its port became free from British import duties. Wine and brandy were stockpiled here and taken to Britain in small quantities when prices were good. Referred to as ‘Free Trade’, the practice legitimated what was in effect little more than smuggling.
Our first visit this afternoon in St Peter Port is to Hauteville House, Victor Hugo’s home when he lived in self-imposed exile on Guernsey between 1856 and 1870 and again in 1872-73. Hugo arrived in Guernsey after he was evicted from Jersey, where he had lived for three years, because of his loudly expressed Republican opinions. While the poet produced some of his best work on Guernsey, as a Frenchman who brought his mistress into exile, installing her in a house at 20 Hauteville St, while he lived with his wife in the nearby Hauteville House, Hugo did not really fit into Guernsey society. While living here, Hugo saw his most famous work, Les Misérables, published in 1862. His novel, Toilers Of The Sea, written during the author’s stay on the island, is set in the ancient parish churchyard around St Sampsons Harbour. Note: access to Hauteville House is limited to very small groups. For this reason our group will be sub-divided with half the group visiting the house today, and the other half tomorrow morning. (Overnight Guernsey) B
Day 9: Saturday 3 June, Guernsey
Hauteville House, home of Victor Hugo / time at leisure in St Peter Port
Sausmarez Manor Saturday Farmers Market, St Martins (time-permitting)
Sausmarez Manor Sub-tropical Gardens, St Martins
For those who visited Hauteville House yesterday afternoon, we begin today with some time at leisure to explore the lively atmosphere of Guernsey’s capital, St Peter Port. With its cobbled streets, and picturesque seafront, this is considered one of Europe’s prettiest harbour towns.
Mid-morning we journey to the parish of St Martins, hopefully in time to visit Sausmarez Manor’s Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturday mornings. Here, fresh vegetables, free range eggs, chutneys, honey, hams, exotic plants and shrubs, vegetable plants, bric-a-braque, bedding plants, homemade cakes, antiques, books and health foods can all be found.
Following a picnic lunch, David Richards (to be confirmed in 2017) will give us a guided tour of the Sausmarez Manor Sub-tropical Garden. Rich in subtropical and Mediterranean plants, it also features over 300 camellias in an ancient woodland and a sculpture trail. Much discussed in the media, the camellias range from old to new varieties, including a cutting grown from the first ever imported into Europe and one that flowers right on into August. (Overnight St Peter Port, Guernsey) B
Day 10: Sunday 4 June, Excursion to Alderney/Burhou
Boat to Alderney
Boat cruise of the Alderney Ramsar Site: including Burhou Island for puffin watching & viewing of gannet colonies on Les Etacs and Ortac
Today we cross to Alderney, the third largest of the Channel Islands, situated at the mouth of the Channel, 11 kilometres due west of Cap de la Hague in Normandy. From Alderney a boat trip takes us on a tour of the Alderney Ramsar Site (1500 hectares of important wetlands, accredited under the Ramsar convention in 2005) to view the Puffins on Burhou, as well as the impressive gannet colonies on Les Etacs and Ortac and the Atlantic seal colony near Burhou Reef.
Burhou Island is just 2.25 kilometres northwest of Alderney. Despite being only about one kilometre long and half a kilometre wide, Burhou is a bird sanctuary which is home to 11 species of breeding birds. The island is best known for its colony of Atlantic puffins which may be viewed between March and July. The Atlantic puffin is one of four species of puffin and the only one found in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a member of the auks (Alcidae) family of sea birds which includes guillemots, the razorbill and auklets. Today there are 143 pairs of Burhou puffins, having declined from a total of many thousand birds in the last twenty years. The puffins spend most of the year out in the Atlantic Ocean. They only return to land at the end of March to breed and raise their young. On Burhou the puffins build their nests in old rabbit burrows or on the side of the cliffs. Once they have made a nest the male and female return to the same nest every year. Eggs are laid in the burrows in late spring/early summer. Incubation usually takes between 36 and 45 days. Then, after the egg has hatched the parents will take turns leaving the burrow in search of food for the puffling chick. The puffling chicks spend between 34 and 60 days in the nest before they fledge and swim out to sea to join the puffin colony. Other nesting birds on Burhou include the oystercatcher, storm petrel, shag, greater and lesser black-backed gull and herring gull.
Les Etacs and Ortac rocks support more than 2% of the world’s gannet population. These colonies are the most southerly within the gannet’s range, with over 6,000 breeding pairs recorded. Gannets feed primarily on fish such as mackerel, sand eels and herring, which they find by diving to depths of up to 20 metres or scavenging along the surface of the sea. In the late afternoon we return to Guernsey, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL
Day 11: Monday 5 June, Day Excursion to Sark
Ferry to and from Sark
Guest talk by Dr Richard Axton on Sark’s prehistoric finds and Sark in the 16th century
Guest talk by the Seneschal of Sark (subject to confirmation in 2017)
La Seigneurie Garden and lobster lunch at Hathaways Brasserie
Tour of island by horse and carriage
This morning we take a 45-minute ferry ride to Sark. The island is only 5 kilometres long and a little over 1.5 kilometres wide, but boasts 64 kilometres of picturesque coastline. Although it has a population of just 600, Sark is a self-governing Crown Dependency and was the last European territory to abolish feudalism in 2008. The Head of Government is the Seigneur, an hereditary position dating back to 1565 and currently held by John Michael Beaumont.
Sark consists of two main parts, Greater Sark and Little Sark to the south: they are connected by a narrow, razor-edged isthmus called La Coupée, which is 90 metres long and has a drop of 100 metres on each side. Two bays flank the isthmus: La Grand Grêve to the west and Convanche Bay, part of Baleine Bay, to the east.
We will be given a talk on two periods of Sark’s history – the Prehistoric era and the 16th century – by Dr Richard Axton. Subject to confirmation, we will also be joined by the Seneschal of Sark (President of Chief Pleas and Chief Judge), who will explain the history and politics of the island.
We will then visit the gardens of La Seigneurie, the home of the Seigneurs of Sark. With its colourful borders and stone walls, this is one of the finest gardens in the Channel Islands. There is also a potager, a pond, a restored Victorian greenhouse and a recently extended fruit and vegetable garden. The walled garden dates to the mid-19th century, complete with some of its original Victorian lay out. The high walls give protection from the wind and the island’s almost frost-free climate allows many tender and half hardy plants to thrive.
Sark is renowned for its local lobster, and we will partake of this delicacy at a special lunch in the beautiful surrounds of the gardens. We will spend the remainder of our time in Sark visiting sites on Greater Sark. As there are no cars on Sark, our tour of the island will be made the old-fashioned way – by horse and carriage. (Overnight St Peter Port) BL
Day 12: Tuesday 6 June, Excursion to Herm
Ferry to and from Herm
Guided tour of Herm’s Award-winning Gardens with chief gardener, Brett Moore
Crab sandwich lunch at The Captain’s Hotel, Guernsey
La Petite Vallee, St Peter Port
Cliff Path Walk of the South Coast
The Island of Herm is a 20-minute ferry ride from St Peter Port. Like Sark it has no cars, and visitors tour the island on foot. This tiny island, covering just 550 acres, is a subtropical paradise supporting beautiful gardens laden with native and exotic plants. From spring onwards wildflowers take over the island with violets, red campion, primroses and daffodils lining the coastal cliff paths and carpeting the woodland. The fragrance of Burnet rose drifts across the heathland by June whilst the southern cliffs are sprinkled with sea pinks, rock samphire and heather.
The island rarely suffers from frost and has few native trees, having been cleared for sheep grazing. After the First World War, Sir Compton Mackenzie took over the lease of Herm and set about restoring the gardens. Trees were then introduced by the next resident, Sir Percival Perry, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, who realised that Monterey pines, holm oaks and Monterey cypresses would offer shelter from the prevailing sea winds and allow subtropical plants to flourish. Today, all the displays and gardens on the island are successfully looked after by a head gardener with an assistant, who have won numerous awards for their efforts. This morning we join Herm’s head gardener, Brett Moore, for a private tour during which we will learn about the unique plant life and challenges associated with gardening on Herm.
Late morning we return to Guernsey for a crab sandwich lunch at The Captains, a traditional, so-called ‘gastro pub’ frequented by locals from all over Guernsey.
In St Peter Port we visit the collection of gardens at La Petite Vallee, with a wide range of exotic and traditional planting on terraces and slopes leading down to the sea. Here we will have the chance to explore the seasonal cloisters, herbaceous borders, woodland walk and a tropical area with a number of unusual plants and water flows.
We end our day with a cliff path walk along Guernsey’s south coast. The cliff paths of the south coast are splashed with colour and fragrance, right through to late summer, with sea campions, wild thyme, ox-eye daisies, seapinks and coconut-scented gorse. (Overnight St Peter Port) B
Day 13: Wednesday 7 June, Guernsey
Grange Court, St Peter Port
Small private garden, St Peter Port
Candie Gardens and afternoon at leisure
Evening Farewell Dinner
Today begins with a visit to Grange Court, the private gardens of Mr and Mrs Pat Johnson, which featured in the April 2013 edition of The English Garden magazine. Set in the heart of town, Grange Court is a 2-acre garden with a mix of formal and informal styles, containing many exotic and rare plants. A mature private town garden of approximately 2 acres with both formal & informal areas, it is shaded by majestic old trees, including a magnificent copper beech. Features of the garden include the remains of an elegant old stone orangery which forms the backdrop to the rose gardens, and an impressive Victorian ‘cactus’ greenhouse. Mixed shrub and perennial borders provide colour all year round in this immaculately maintained garden. Our morning’s program also includes a visit to a neighbouring small private garden.
Today’s program concludes with a visit to the award-winning, restored Victorian Candie Gardens that offer the best view across St Peter Port harbour and over to the sister islands of Herm, Sark and Jethou, along with a rare example of a late 19th century public flower garden. They are home to the oldest known heated glasshouses in the British Isles, which date back to the late 18th century. Inside the gardens, aside from the beautiful flowers, lawns, and fish ponds, you will find a museum, art gallery, and a café housed in a Victorian bandstand. There will be time to return to the hotel before we head out to a local restaurant to share a farewell evening meal. (Overnight St Peter Port) BD
Day 14: Thursday 8 June, Depart Guernsey
Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
Our tour concludes in St Peter Port today. After breakfast, group members taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to Guernsey Airport. Alternatively you may wish to extend your stay in the Channel Islands. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B