These pages chart the progress of the project which is currently
In the spring of 2002 Angie Petkovic, owner and director of APT Marketing
Solutions, a marketing and PR company based in Cheltenham, England,
entered the grounds surrounding the Chateau La Chaire Hotel, Rozel
Bay, Jersey, for the first time.
Angie entered the grounds of Chateau La Chaire through a small unpromising
wooden gate upon which a sign indicated rather dolefully that those
who entered did so entirely at their own risk. At that moment
all Angie wanted was a breath of fresh air following a long meeting
in the hotel. She turned to go back, thinking a stroll on the seashore
a better option. After a few steps she paused; a keen sense of curiosity
had always been one of her strong characteristics. Surely a closed
gate and a negative sign were an open invitation?
Once inside the gate a sloping path led roughly in a seaward direction
before beginning to climb the south facing valley side. Although a
keen gardener, the plants on either side of the path were not ones
she immediately recognised, although some of the foliage looked similar
to that sold to flower arrangers in her local florist.
After half an hour Angie came back through the gate and that evening
rang someone who she knew would know the plants and perhaps even the
history of the grounds surrounding the Chateau La Chaire - Tony Russell,
former Head Forester of Westonbirt Arboretum.
"Well the plant sounds like some kind of
Acacia, but Chateau La Chaire had never heard of it. Samuel Curtis
you say - now that name does ring a bell - tell me more."
Within days Angie had flown Tony Russell out to Jersey and together
they entered through the wooden gate. Tony Russell had been working
with plants for twenty-three years, the last thirteen of which had
been spent looking after Westonbirt, the National Arboretum in Gloucestershire.
He was widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on trees
and shrubs, regularly appearing on TV and radio. He had written several
books, including one on the gardens of Cornwall, which had a chapter
on the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
It was obvious to Tony's experienced eye that at one time the grounds
surrounding Chateau La Chaire had been a garden of some significance.
Although now virtually devoid of plants (other than weeds and Jersey
natives) the terracing with its south facing beds, and the careful
use of topography and aspect throughout the grounds all suggested
the work of a skilled and knowledgeable horticulturist.
Over the following months both Tony and Angie began to piece together
the Chateau La Chaire story (see Samuel Curtis
and The Garden). Talks were held with Jersey
Tourism, leading politicians, personalities and horticulturists on
In October 2002, Angie Petkovic and APT Marketing Solutions decided
to proceed with a feasibility study on the restoration of the Samuel
Curtis Garden at La Chaire, with Tony Russell as lead consultant.
That study is now underway and Simon Bonvoison of Nicholas Pearsons
Associates has been commissioned to prepare a Historic Garden Survey
and Restoration Plan for the grounds of Chateau la Chaire.
There is a long way to go but if the feasibility study is positive
the objectives are to restore the garden faithfully to how it was
at its peak one hundred years ago and in the process give Samuel Curtis,
probably one of Britainís greatest plantsmen, his due recognition.
There is the potential at Chateau la Chaire to re-create a garden
that has a greater diversity of plants growing outside than any other
garden in Britain.