Gardeners are unable to resist visits to other people’s plots, and when a botanic establishment at Samares Manor in Jersey appeared on the radar it was embraced with enthusiasm.
It was created in the 1920s by a Northumbrian millionaire philanthropist Sir James Knott (1855-1934) when he moved to the island in 1924.
We found a mixture of restored original features alongside imaginative modern schemes, with plants that clearly thrive in the fertile, sheltered site.
A Japanese garden created in 1930 with Cumberland limestone was recently replanted to capture the original minimalist design.
David Austin roses grew alongside English lavenders as if it were mid-summer. There were mixed borders that offered year-round colour, and an exploration of the same, with a combination of perennials and annuals, planted in four separate beds.
A long border of exotic plants held the attention. Tall bananas, citrus, gingers, cannas and a group of Ricinis communis, 2m high, confirmed the degree of freedom a mild climate offers gardeners.
Following a Discovery Gardens sign, we negotiated a route through six interesting design features: cottage, contemporary, vibrant, tranquil, coastal and foliage.
A loud buzz of activity led through groups of key flowering plants that attract butterflies, bees and other nectar foraging insects, then the route diverted past busy hives to an observation shed with screen and live hive action.
Add the arboretum, with its collection of trees from around the world, and the urge for a seat, hot drink and cake comes just as on garden visits back home.
There’s also a plant centre, with no restrictions other than your baggage allowance on taking plants back to the UK or Europe.
This delightful place, with mild climate and ideal growing conditions, offered the bonus of an extended summer during our visit.
Many roses and bedding plants had gone into end-of-season mode back home, yet here they remained vibrant.
Green country lanes and roadside cottages, some with makeshift notices, offered vegetables for sale.
Next spring, when the bunches of early daffodils and Royal potatoes appear on supermarket shelves, it will evoke fond memories of the place they came from.
Holiday over, there’s lost gardening time to make up. Lawns need mowing and there’s an outstanding stretch of hedge to trim.
An old escallonia is scheduled for removal, the first of several perennials that will see the trusty spade over coming weeks.
Vegetative propagation is ongoing, and our grapes are getting sweeter on the vine, but complacency is out. Every bunch is checked daily for signs of mould, which spreads so quickly in an enclosed space. Now’s the time to use water sparingly and concentrate on ventilation.