Jack Etheridge of Auburn Gardens and his right hand man; Matthew Leach, are both passionate about the island they live and work in; specialising in landscaping and garden design.
Busy with their green fingers helping the island in all things botanical we planted the seed by asking them what five things they would change about Guernsey and unsurprisingly many of the ideas cultivated are horticulturally based.
1. Plants and trees are the lungs of Guernsey - Lets keep It that way
Whilst there are already many fantastic organisations and individuals that are passionate and dedicated to ensuring Guernsey is ‘green’, we feel there is more potential to focus on improving biodiversity and keeping that biodiversity local. Public floral and plant displays should aim to improve the islands’s ecology, with plants being selected via their potential to support the island’s wildlife. For example; berries for local wild birds and dense blooms for pollinating insects.We can also help by opting to choose native hedging and broad leaved trees, as opposed to ever-green hedging such as the dreaded leylandii and other invasive species. This will ensure some of Guernsey’s most treasured gems such as the Orchid fields and bluebell woods can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
Pictured: File image of Bluebell woods
2. The school curriculum should Include horticulture and gardening
Nothing is more important than education and we think one topic is more often than not missed from the school curriculum. Gardening and Horticuluture should be as essential as English, Maths and Science. Guernsey is a garden and people should be taught at a young age their connection to food and plant life. Teach students where their carrots come from, how to cultivate a herb garden and the difference between an agapanthus and an asparagus. Guernsey’s heritage is horticulture; history shows us years of tomato farming made us who we are today. It should be a given that young people can identify plant names and know our trees.
Pictured: Child gardening
3. Make use of Guernsey’s vineyards
There is no more a depressing sight than a dilapidated, neglected, overgrown, and forgotten greenhouse. Once a thriving hub of trade, production and happy family life, these greenhouses are now largely dangerous, costly burdens for their owners. Granted, it’s often not financially viable to use all greenhouses for commercial horticulture, but we feel there can be steps towards making exciting use of these snippets of our commercial history. There could be more incentives to make use of greenhouses,and relaxed regulations for change of use (for commercial enterpriseetc). There’s a serious outcry for light industrial premises and alternative uses should be actively encouraged by The States.Who knows, one day every single greenhouse in Guernsey could be full of life again.
Pictured: Old greenhouses
4. More recognition of landscaping as a trade
‘Oh… so you’re just a gardener’ is a phrase we hear far too often. Landscaping combines not just gardening but paving, block laying; elements of carpentry and plumbing, tree surgery, detailed drawings and schematics and lots of highly qualified research and planning. There are plenty of landscapers in Guernsey who deserve recognition for the great work done in the island and not only that, gardening can be a highly specialised trade itself. A lot of hard work and expertise goes into creating and maintaining a great garden and for many it is a labour of love. The Landscape Awards 2019 anyone?
Pictured: A landscaped garden by Auburn Gardens
5. Healthy ‘Greasy Spoon’
Gone are the days of tradesmen wanting a bacon sandwich and a cup of weak tea - our job requires proper food for a proper day's work. We’re taken across our island for various jobs and more often than not are stuck with a sausage roll or a pasty for lunch. It would be great to have a few - dare we say it - healthy options, for quick, easy, cheap food outside of town. Variety is the spice of life and we want more of it. Just imagine finishing a hard morning’s work in Torteval and treating yourself to locally sourced pork sausage and sweet potato mash in a recyclable paper cone… or shall we stick to just another ham sandwich.
Pictured: Healthy take away?
Pictured main image: Left to right; Jack Etheridge and Matthew Leach
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