The Floral Guernsey Spring Festival is the first of three week-long celebrations held on the island each year to showcase Guernsey’s stunning flora and gardening trends.
A mild maritime climate means that spring arrives in the Channel Islands around three weeks earlier than in mainland Britain and gives Guernsey ideal growing conditions for a fantastic display of colourful wildflowers. From rare orchids and crocuses to exotic lilies and pink Pimpernels, Guernsey is one of the best places to discover some of the British Isles’ most beautiful flora and fauna and there’s no better time to explore the island’s gardens than during the festival week.
Now in its seventh year, the festival has a programme of events that appeals to all levels of budding gardeners, but even those who are not green-fingered will enjoy the festivities. Workshops, demonstrations, guided walks, open gardens and family activities at local garden centres take place across the island, and there are always experts on hand to offer valuable cultivating tips.
Outlined below is the line up of events:
Sunday 21st April
Open garden at Fort Saumarez
The 2013 festival will see the first public opening of this coastal garden, located on L’Eree headland at the foot of Fort Saumarez. The garden has been designed and planted to cope with the local maritime conditions of strong winds and sea salt spray and includes part of the protected Ramsar Site and walks around the headland. The garden will be open from 2 – 5pm with £4 entry per person.
Monday 22nd April
Camellia Spring Garden guided walk at Sausmarez Manor
As part of the festival, there will be a 45 minute guided tour of the 300 varieties of camellias at the Sausmarez Manor Subtropical Garden. The many varieties of camellia include a cutting grown from the first imported camellia into Europe and a variety that flowers right into August. Visitors will also be able to see numerous rare, unusual and exotic trees and plants. The walk starts at 10am and costs £5 per person. To book call: 01481 235571
Forest Parish guided walk
Starting at Forest Parish Church, which is the island’s smallest parish church,the walk will give an insight into the history of the Forest Parish. The walk starts at 2pm and costs £5 per person. No booking is required.
Wednesday 24th April
Tiny Tots Wiggly Worms and Mini Beasts Children’s Workshop
The 45 minute workshops introduce young children under the age of four to the ‘mini beasts’ that help keep the garden looking lovely. The workshop costs £5, including a basket, seeds and plant pot to take away. The workshop takes place at the Queux Patio Garden Centre in Castel with a session at 10am and 11am. To book, call the Queux Patio Garden Centre on 01481 256762.
‘From Spuds to Chelsea’ – Talk from award winning landscape designer Cleve West
Well known landscape designer, Cleve West will provide a fascinating insight into life in the gardening world. Throughout his career he has won seven RHS Gold Medals, the BBC/RHS “People’s Choice” award at the Chelsea Flower Show and the “Best in Show” award for The Telegraph in 2011 and Brewin Dolphin in 2012. The talk will take place at Les Cotils Centre in St. Peter Port with drinks at 7pm for a 7.30 start. The talk costs £10 for RHS members and £12 for non-members.
Friday 26th April
St. Andrews guided bird watching walk
Experienced RSPB member Rod Ferbrache will take visitors for a walk around Les Vaubelets and the Fauquet valley in the inland Guernsey parish of St Andrew, allowing them to discover the birdlife in this beautiful area. The circular walk will start from the Little Chapel car park and will cost £5 per person. All proceeds to go towards the restoration of The Little Chapel gardens. Numbers are limited so early booking is advisable. For details of booking visit: www.floralguernsey.co.uk.
Saturday 27th April
Guernsey Clematis nursery tour and workshop
Join award-winning nurseryman Raymond Evison for a tour of his nursery at Domarie Vineries and an informative workshop. This will cover breeding, development, a demonstration of how to plant a container, combining clematis with other plants, pruning, feeding, propagation and a chance to see the latest cultivars before they come on the market. The workshop finishes at the Braye Vinery where light refreshments will be served. The tour starts at 10.30 and lasts for two hours, costing £7.95 for RHS members and £9.95 for non- members. To book call: 01481 245942
Saturday 27th April
A tour and tasting of Haut Maison Fruit Liqueurs
There will be an exciting tour of the Haut Maison liqueur production facilities and their kitchen garden, soft fruit orchard, tree orchard and a bluebell wood from 2.30pm. Guests will be able to see the ‘booze room’, followed by a tasting of Haut Maison liqueurs, with the opportunity to buy their favourite. The tour costs £10 per person (proceeds go to Floral Guernsey). Places are limited so early booking is advised. To book call Katherine Paine on 07781 447 551 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 28th April
Guided walk to Lihou Island with afternoon tea
Lihou Island on Guernsey’s west coast is accessible only at low tide by a cobbled causeway across the sea bed. There will be a guided walk to the island explaining its history and special nature as it forms part of the Ramsar site. The walk will end with a cup of tea and slice of Guernsey Gache. The walk costs £8.50 per person and lasts from 1:45pm to 4.45pm. Participants need to meet at the Prosperity Monument Island car park. To book call the Guernsey Information centre on 01481 723552.
Monday 29th April
Lecture on ‘The Odd Couple: Lutyens & Jeykll’
The lecture explores the partnership and work of the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens & garden designer Miss Gertrude Jeykll at the end of 19th and early 20th Century. The lecture takes place at Les Cotlis in St. Peter Port from 6.30pm and costs £16 for non-members and £5 for students. To book call 01481 720 929.
Guernsey’s Floral spring, summer and autumn festivals are organised by Floral Guernsey, an independent organisation that is run almost entirely by volunteers and was formed 20 years ago to promote floral events throughout the island. For further general information visit: www.visitguernsey.com/article/104656/SPRING-FLORAL-FESTIVAL-WEEK or www.floralguernsey.co.uk/
Flights to Guernsey from London Gatwick are available with Aurigny (www.aurigny.com) and Flybe (www.flybe.com). Return flights during the festival start from £92 per person and £75 respectively including all taxes and charges. Departures from several regional airports are also available such as from Southampton with Blue Islands (www.blueislands.com), with return flights costing from £126 per person including all taxes and charges.