Garden History

The Glory of the Garden: A Jersey Selection

Publisher's Preface:

In 1987 Jersey's two leading field botanists, Frances Le Sueur and Margaret Long, both keen gardeners, decided to fill a gap in the wide range of subjects coming under the umbrella of history studied in the island, in particular those pursued by the History Section of the Société Jersiaise.  Thoughts that garden history might be a rather narrow specialisation could be countered by pointing out its importance, as the founders were acutely aware that loss of gardens to development and the passing away of some life-long gardeners would, relatively quickly, make the story of gardens in Jersey ever more difficult to unravel and record.

With Mrs Le Sueur as Chairman and Mrs Long as Secretary the new Garden History Section gathered a keen group of members to find what they could from the historic record and to capture as much as possible of the present.  Their findings should start to reveal how much gardens and gardening have changed from the past, and establish a body of data for future enthusiasts to work with.  The Executive Committee was pleased to support their initiative and, starting from scratch in a new discipline, their successful progress is recounted in their reports in the Annual Bulletins.

The Pubications Committee was also pleased to support their plans for a book and to undertake publication.  Having multiple authors might tempt a publisher to request conformity across the contributions but, as the writing of some garden owners reflected to a surprising extent the character of their gardening, it was agreed that editorial tidying up or attempts at consistency should be kept to a minimum.  The result is, not surprisingly, articles having a variety of style, approach and length which, we consider, adds to the book's interest and attractiveness for the reader.

The steering group for this book, and the other Section members, are amateurs with wide commitments, which helps to explain the rather slow progress of this project from initiation to completion, during which time a number of the older garden owners have died, further justifying the decision to interfere with original texts as little as possible.  Some owners were happy, indeed preferred, that their gardens should be described by others rather than themselves.  Unattributed articles, some by one writer, others in collaboration, were compiled by members of the Section, namely: Mayda Reynolds and Susan Lea, both of whom also wrote about their own gardens; Rosemary Bett who, with Mrs Reynolds, is co-chairman of the Section; Rozelle Sutherland, Section Secretary; Margaret Long; Jean Petre; Jennifer Rendell; Jean Arthur; Marjorie Case; and Charles Monckton.

Early photographs have been provided mostly by the owners from records of their gardens' development and change.  Fortunately, the inauguration in 1975 of a scheme by two charities for Sunday afternoon opening of gardens to raise funds literally opened the gates for the public to see inside many of the gardens displayed in this book.  Many photographers took advantage of this wonderful opportunity resulting in a high proportion of illustrations to be seen in the following pages.  The scheme continues, although on a smaller scale, and other charities have independently also benefitted from the continuing generosity of the owners of beautiful gardens.  This writer attempted to compile as complete a collection of photographs as possible, and since that firt occasion nearly one hundred different gardens have opened their gates for charity, an indication of Jersey's remarkable good fortune in having so many fine gardens in so small an island.

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