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Plant Heritage Guernsey Current Projects

Clematis Fireworksnccpg4.jpgCurrently there are four conservation projects: 
  1. The recording and identification of the earliest varieties of Camellia plants, introduced to the Bailiwick of Guernsey mainly by the Caledonia Nursery, established in the early 1850's.

  2. The Nerine Collection

  3. The Period Clematis Collections

  4. The setting up of a Caparne Iris Collection.

In addition Plant Heritage Guernsey has made substantial donations to the the Guernsey Botanical Trust, which is restoring the Victorian Walled Kitchen Garden in Saumarez Park. In 2012 a donation was made towards the landscaping of the garden at Les Bourgs Hospice.


Camellia1. The Camellia Collection

Camellias in Candie Gardens, Saumarez Park and Sausmarez Manor (all open to the public) have been recorded, mapped and photographed over the last few years. Many of these were grown at the Caledonia Nursery (now a private property). In addition there is a collection of 36 cultivars, which were planted in the grounds of Government House in 1997.  The choice was based on a two-volume work, published privately by Beryl Urquhart.  A few of these camellias suffered severe damage in the 2013 snow storms from trees falling on top of them. They were heavily pruned and are beginning to recover.  Keep a look out on our Facebook page each February to see photos of them as they regrow.

Caroline Timms, who was involved in sourcing these camellias, has made contact with Chiswick House in London, the neo-Palladian home of Lord Burlington. They have been restoring their 18th century glasshouse, which is full of very old camellias and have taken lots of cuttings. Caroline is hopeful that she can find the missing plants there.

In November 2016 there was one more addition to this collection of a wonderful red flowered camellia. It is a cutting from one of the oldest camellias on the island, originally on the site of the old prison, which has now been planted by our patron, Lady Corder in Government House gardens.  The original plant dates back to the time of Elizabeth Fry's prison reforms in the early 19th century. 

The current work involves collating all the records of the camellias from the various sites with the photographs on one database.

Nerines in a Glasshouse2. The Nerine Collection

One of the longest held and developing collections is the nerines. The idea for establishing a living collection of nerine species cultivars particularly ‘Nerine Sarniensis' was mooted in 1993. Over the years the collection has grown substantially.

In 2000 cultural notes were produced and these have been updated in 2014 (see link below). The first exhibition of the Nerine Collection was held in autumn 2000 and the festival has become an annual event with bulbs for sale. Traditionally the wife of the Lieutenant Governor is our Patron and has a bulb named after her, which is presented at the festival.

Plant Heritage Guernsey acquired a large number of small bulbs from Ken Hall in 2010 and when he reduced the size of the National Collection in 2013, we bought about half of the surplus, which was several hundred bulbs. In 2015 we were offered several collections from Guernsey residents, again increasing the collection by several hundred bulbs.

The collection now stands at 350 October flowering cultivars and some 50 late flowering ones. The collection requires much recording, watering, feeding and ventilating and any identification of pests and diseases. Throughout the year the committee help out in working parties and further assistance is always appreciated.


Clematis Fouiry Queen3. The Period Clematis Collections

The year 2000 was a busy year for initiating the Group's projects under the guidance of our then Chairman, Raymond Evison, who is Chairman and founder of the Guernsey Clematis Nursery.

The south facing wall in Candie Gardens was chosen, as the border carried a range of suitable host plants. Thirty-six clematis cultivars from the 19th century were selected as suitable in growth and colour - two of each cultivar were planted. In 2002 there was further planting for the north wall and terraces in St. Julian's Avenue. In 2002 Plant Heritage Guernsey took over the maintenance with a team of volunteers, ably lead by Diana Rowland and then from 2006 until 2013 by Ann Le Pelley. Casualties have been replaced and protection placed to stop over zealous strimming damaging the plants.

In 2009 it was suggested that clematis species be planted along the outside walls of the Saumarez Park Victorian Walled Kitchen garden-initially there was a real problem with watering but hopefully this has been overcome now!

Later in 2009 Raymond Evison announced that he would no longer hold a National Collection of clematis. The committee felt that they were unable to take over the whole collection. It was decided to keep about 100 of the most vulnerable cultivars (over 100 years old) on the island.

Tony O'Donnell offered to be ‘team leader', and his team have been successful in propagating clematis which hopefully will be on sale to boost our funds in later years.

4. The Setting up of the Caparne Iris Collection.

William John Caparne FRHS came to Guernsey in 1896 with his daughter after establishing himself as a horticulturalist to supplement his income from teaching art at Oundle school. In 1890 he had ventured into the world of hybridisation especially of the genus Iris. Between 1898 and 1904 he introduced some 40 of what Caparne termed ‘Intermediate Bearded Iris' and in 2000 Plant Heritage Guernsey decided to try and form a conservation collection of those 40 Iris bred by Caparne in Guernsey.

Locating and obtaining examples from the plant list has proved to be a lengthy process as the rhizomes only seem to be available outside the UK, in USA and Eastern Europe.

By 2003 13 cultivars had been identified, a difficult task as Caparne's paintings were in private hands. In 2003 they were planted in the garden of the White House in Herm and flourished around the swimming pool. To secure the collection it was decided in 2010 to have a duplicate collection in Guernsey planted in Candie Gardens. However, on a visit to Herm it was found that with changes there, the importance of the Iris had not been recognised and they had been planted around the garden without labels. Pete Cumming has taken charge and with the help of Caroline Timms has identified the cultivars at flowering time and brought some rhizomes back to Guernsey, where they have been planted in a private garden. 

click here to download nerine cultural hints