The Guernsey Botanical Trust’s Victorian walled kitchen garden at Saumarez Park

March 8th, 2009 by Richard Lord

The Guernsey Botanical Trust is undertaking the restoration of the Victorian walled kitchen garden at Saumarez Park. They are recreating the garden as it was in the period from 1875 to 1900.

The garden originally supplied Lord de Saumarez’s family and his guests and staff with food. Flowers and plants were grown to decorate his home.

(click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The aim of the garden is to grow food and flowers the Victorian way. This involves learning lost skills and using old seed varieties. Modern disease resistant varieties will not be sown. Because the period 1875 to 1900 was before the widespread use of fossil fuels, the gardeners will not be using fossil fuel-based fertilisers or modern tools. They will be using tools and fertilisers made from sustainable natural resources. The garden will be organic but that is not the main aim of the garden.

(click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The gardeners wish to remain faithful to Victorian gardening techniques although modern health and safety laws will be followed. The use of toxic elements like arsenic and smoked nicotine, which were used in Victorian times, will not be used to control pests.

(click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The original garden had four separate glasshouses. The Guernsey Botanical Trust will restore the grape glasshouse, the citrus house, and the peach house. They will build a sympathetically designed administration building. Two dipping ponds supplied by a stream will feature at the centre of the garden. These ponds will provide easy access to water for watering cans to irrigate the planted crops.

(click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The garden produce will be sold to the public, as well as supplying the Sausmarez Park Café and St. John’s residential home.

The garden is very much a community project. The trust is heavily involved with Guernsey schools and school clubs. The Rainbows have visited the garden to plant sunflowers, and Guernsey school children will be visiting the garden to plant and tend to crops.

Ivan Le Tissier (volunteer co-ordinator) in the Victorian walled kitchen garden in Saumarez Park stands behind some large cabbages in October 2008 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Eighty volunteers have registered with the Guernsey Botanical Trust. The Garden is open for work Monday to Friday 0900 to 1800 and Saturday from 0900 to 1700.

Currently there are two work groups. One operates on Wednesday afternoon and the other one all day Saturday. In 2008 six volunteers regularly turned up on Wednesday and twenty on Saturday. Ivan is asking for more volunteers to assist with restoring and maintaining the garden.

You are invited to join either of the two groups, or get a few friends together and start your own group. The Guernsey Botanical Trust would welcome any companies who would like to put a workforce together to help with the restoration and the operation of the garden.

If you are interested in helping please contact Ivan Le Tissier on 241157 or weaver(at)cwgsy.net

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