Enhancing and nurturing the natural environment at the heart of St Pierre du Bois

May 16th, 2011 by St Pierre du Bois Floral Group

(Please click on logo to go to St Pierre du Bois Floral Guernsey website)

Le Ch’min du Trésor, is a circular walk starting at Les Buttes (the parish green). It was opened to the public in May 2009. The aim is to maintain the unique natural environment and wildlife meadow. In 2009 we organised the planting of over a hundred trees and in 2010 living willow bird hides were created.

(wildlife meadow -click image to expand)

The Walk begins at Les Buttes (the parish green) and leads down through woodland to a meadow below. A choice of routes follow a douit, which is bordered by wetland, through the meadow and then leads up de Beauvoir Steps to a grass area behind de Beauvoir Cemetery and back to the parish green passing the church.

A key objective for the St. Pierre du Bois Floral Group is to encourage families and youth groups to visit the Walk and learn to appreciate their natural environment.

The St Pierre du Bois Floral Group with the assistance of Community Services teams, maintains the wildlife environment.

A new entrance, supported by Floral Guernsey’s Legacy Project, has been constructed from Les Buttes into the woodland so as to separate the Rectory lawn from the Walk. Camelia, Rhododendron and Hydrangea shrubs have been planted in this area.

Steps have been constructed in the woodland where the path leading to the meadow was steep and inclined to be slippery.

Bird, plant and tree and insect identification boards, researched and designed by pupils at La Houguette School, have been placed at ‘child height’ in or near the living willow bird hides and outdoor classroom.

Soon after taking up The Living at St Pierre du Bois in 2004 the Reverend Maurice Strike embarked upon a project to regenerate the Victorian terraced gardens at the rectory (which abut Le Ch’min). He and a group of volunteers cleared inaccessible undergrowth which, in his words was ‘man high’, to create access to the lower gardens and onwards to the meadow below.

Boardwalk across the meadow (click image to expand)

A donation from a member of the church congregation enabled the creation of a boardwalk which provided the first path across the meadow.

In 2008 the Floral St Peter’s team became involved in the project and Guernsey Community Services were enlisted to provide labour for major tasks.

De Beauvoir step construction (click image to expand)

They created a set of earth steps through almost impenetrable bramble and weed, leading up from the meadow to the cemetery above, thus completing the circular Walk. Their work continues, cutting irrigation channels, clearing pathways and carrying out specialised jobs such as stonework.

While Community Services were clearing the area beyond the stream they came across a pile of stones; on closer examination they discovered what had once been a well. Two members of their team who are experienced stonemasons rebuilt the structure.

Professional stonemason restores uncovered well (click image to expand)

During the autumn of 2008 Floral St Peter’s volunteers planted 2,000 bulbs throughout the Walk, a combination of narcissi, muscari, bluebells and cyclamen which now provide an array of Spring colour.

Narcissi and Cyclamen planted by Floral St Peter's volunteeers in the Autumn of 2008 (click image to expand)

Sixteen nesting boxes made from reclaimed timber were built to different specifications so as to cater for tits, sparrows, starlings and robins. These are located throughout the Walk. Families have been encouraged to ‘Invest in a Nest’ and buy a ‘des-res’ for a local bird family. The boxes are numbered so purchasers can go along to see how their tenants are settling in! Every investor received Title Deeds to their ‘property.’

Installation of numbered bird boxes (click image to expand)

Wooden bench seats have been donated by HSBC, NatWest and Rothschild. The seats, which were supplied by the Sheltered Workshop, mean that walkers can take time out to sit and relax in the meadow.

Wooden benches have been donated by HSBC, NatWest and Rothschild and supplied by the Sheltered Workshop (click image to expand)

In 2009 Charles David and Jane Gilmour from La Société Guernesiaise identified in excess of 160 plant types during a one hour initial visit last year. Animals graze the meadow from time to time.

Legacy project

In December 2009 trees were planted to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the evacuation. Over 150 parishioners, including families and  representatives from youth and sports clubs, as well as primary school pupils, gathered to take part in the planting.  The initiative was also entered in the BBC Breathing Places TreeO’Clock attempt to plant a world record number of trees in one hour.

Seventy English Oak, Alder, Willow, Sweet Chestnut and Ash with an understory of Hawthorne, Crab apple, Holly and Elder.

Tree planting to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the evacuation (click image to expand)

Once the majority of trees had been planted the Bailiff, Sir Geoffrey Rowland, and six former evacuees, planted a copse of seven English Oaks which will create an area for quiet reflection.

Children were invited to ‘Make a Wish for the Environment’ at the Wishing Well.

On Easter Sunday 2011 the third annual ‘Easter Nature Trail’ took place at the Walk. About twenty family groups joined in.

Questions included identifying eight different bird species in the area, finding plants with girls names, and different types of trees, as well as taking part in the Stepping Stone Dash and Pooh Stick Challenge.

Children were invited to ‘Make a Wish for the Environment’ at the Wishing Well.

Our favourite wishes included ….

  • ‘a wish for more plants and flowers in gardens for the butterflies and bees’ Carrie aged 4
  • ‘a wish that there should be lots more places like this for lots of things to grow and look pretty’ Ellen aged 11
  • ‘a wish that people would collect their rubbish when they leave the beach’ Freya aged 4

Future Plans

A management committee has been formed to help ensure that Le Ch’min continues to provide a natural habitat for insect, bird, and all types of wildlife in the meadow, as well as protect the rich variety of plant life already established there.

The committee includes parish constable Mark Dunster, Jamie Hooper, the Rector Maurice Strike and two representatives of the Floral St Peter’s Group. A management plan, based on a template from La Société Guernesiaise is in the process of being completed and it is our intention to continue to seek advice and guidance from members of that organisation.

The Britain in Bloom judges recommended that an interpretation board be placed in the area to describe its history, environment and aims. This is currently being designed.

Work will continue to ensure the preservation of this unique conservation meadow and its accessibility for members of the public, in particular family, school and youth groups.

Floral St Peter’s Group receives a grant from the Floral Guernsey Council towards the costs of preparing the parish for entry in the annual Community Competition. All other income arises from our own fund raising initiatives, sponsorships and donations.

Le Ch’min du Trésor is currently open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays between midday and 6pm.

Access is through the dedicated gateway at Les Buttes (parish green).  Perry’s ref 26F1

Please visit the St Pierre du Bois Floral Guernsey webpage for more information about Floral St. Peter’s initiatives.


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