The Garden
Discovery
Samuel Curtis
Samuel Curtis
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Background
These pages chart the progress of the project which is currently
IN ABEYANCE

January 2004

A garden with its very own micro-climate has been re-discovered on Jersey. Having fallen into disrepair, the significance of the garden had been lost in time. Following the discovery, a group of experts have come together with the aim of putting the garden back on the horticultural map, where it hasn't been since the early 1900s. For details on how you can support this project click here.

The garden was unearthed by Cheltenham-based businesswoman, Angie Petkovic, Managing Director, APT Marketing Solutions, whilst at a meeting with her hotel client, Chateau La Chaire, Rozel Bay. The garden is situated within the hotel grounds. Angie says, “I knew there was something special about the garden as soon as I wandered into it. However, it wasn't until I invited expert Tony Russell to fly over and look at it that we started to appreciate just how important it was.”

The original creator of the gardens, Samuel Curtis, was a renowned Victorian horticulturalist who had toured the British Isles looking for the perfect micro climate in which to develop a garden. In 1841 he found the ideal environment - a sunny, sheltered, rocky valley facing the sea in Rozel, Jersey.

Virtually frost-free because of its proximity to the sea and with a soft purple conglomerate "pudding stone" soil, providing the perfect growing conditions for sub-tropical plants. The original garden was terraced and home to an impressive collection of sub-tropical plants, many of which came from the glasshouses of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

By the time of his death in 1860, Samuel Curtis had established one of the most unique gardens in Britain and in the process pushed the boundaries of what could be grown in a natural environment further than anyone before, or since. When German forces occupied the island during The Second World War, the garden was pillaged of the remaining Curtis plant collection and taken back to Germany.
Elizabeth Jeffries, Chief Executive, Jersey Tourism adds, “Jersey can honestly celebrate its international reputation for gardens and its floral excellence. The Samuel Curtis project could move us from a well known to a celebrity status internationally; it is a fantastically exciting project in the short, medium and long term.”

Feasibility study
Over a period of six months from November 2002 until May 2003 a full feasibility study on the garden and its potential for restoration was carried out.
The feasibility study produced:
  1. A botanical survey
  2. An historical survey
  3. A site survey
  4. An outline restoration plan.
It confirmed the gardens of La Chaire were of botanical and historical importance and more than worthy of restoration.

It confirmed that La Chaire is an important part of the Jersey Heritage

It confirmed it was practical to carry out a restoration.

It identified the costs for a full restoration

It identified how long the restoration would take.

It confirmed a restored garden at La Chaire could become a self-financing visitor attraction.

It began to identify potential partners and funders for the restoration.

It confirmed that this garden will not ever be accessible by car and that a supporting Park and Ride scheme must accompany the project. It identified three potential sites. The study also identified that the Park and Ride scheme should be for Rozel itself and not just for the garden.

The project today - January 2004
The cost of the initial restoration is £3 million and the full restoration will take five years to complete.

The project has the support of the Jersey Tourism Board and other major organizations in the Island and an application has been made to the Tourism Development Fund, which has, in principal, earmarked a substantial amount of funds for La Chaire. However we need to raise funds to match fund any money we access and the project needs to commence to attract some of the various grants and funds available.

It is planned that the garden will be open, for pre-booked group tours, from the summer of 2004 whilst the restoration is in progress [contact details].

A half hour BBC TV documentary on the history of the La Chaire Sub-tropical Gardens and plans for its restoration was screened on BBC2 at 8.00pm on Friday 23rd January, as part of the ‘Hidden Gardens’ TV series. There is a BBC book, which accompanies this series.


Supporting the project
The financial support currently available is not enough to get the project off the ground. The application to the Tourism Development Fund would be a substantial help but this will take some considerable time to access, if ever, and we need to get going now.

We are looking for donations of whatever size and we are hopeful that we will identify some substantial benefactors wishing to see this garden restored to its true potential.

If you would like to support this project and bring the full restoration to reality, please contact us.
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of the photographer

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