The Victor Hugo Garden: Guernsey’s Latest Tribute to the Les Misérables Author
Eyeing a visit to Guernsey, who will be lifting their isolation requirements in July for those who have had both vaccines, this summer? Eager to welcome tourists back to the island, St. Peter Port unveiled the Victor Hugo Gardens, a new experience which invites visitors to take a look into the world of Guernsey’s favourite author.
The Victor Hugo Garden
Earlier this year, Candie Gardens in St. Peter Port, Guernsey, unveiled their latest tribute to Victor Hugo. While largely known as the author of the well-loved novel Les Misérables, Hugo is also considered a bit of a national gem for locals on the island of Guernsey. Hugo spent much of the 1850s and 1860s living in exile from France, choosing to reside in the Channel Islands. For fifteen years of his exile, Hugo lived in Guernsey and wrote multiple novels, novellas, and short stories. He also famously declared Guernsey “the rock of hospitality and freedom” in his novel Toilers of the Sea.
The Victor Hugo Garden is the product of a collaboration between VisitGuernsey, The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society, and famous nurseryman Raymond Evison OBE, VMH. With the help of a group of volunteers, the garden was created to celebrate the life of Hugo and his time on the island. Dinah Bott, Chair of The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society, commented: “We are delighted that the Victor Hugo Garden will bring yet more interest and colour to a prominent part of a much-loved island park, just as Victor Hugo himself brought so much to Guernsey over 150 years ago.”
Designing the Gardens
The Victor Hugo Garden is based on the plants that Hugo would have known and grown in his gardens during his time in Guernsey and France (from which many of the plants are sourced). The Garden is divided into themes, with the ‘Cottage Garden’ containing roses, lilies, hollyhocks, white daisies, wallflowers, and the ‘Wild Garden’ encompassing an undisturbed patch of nature where large terracotta pots with ivy and elm logs attract all kinds of insects and beetles.
The centre of the Victor Hugo Garden pays homage to the fictional garden of Déruchette from Toilers of the Sea. Playing on the dramaticism of environment and setting Hugo liked to create, the walls, gates and plants of the garden provide a natural stage where visitors can envisage dramatic episodes from his writings.
Things To Do
Explore the Victor Hugo Garden at your leisure but be sure to keep an eye out for any plant labels with QR codes; the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society have created a website with details on each plant in the garden, giving visitors the opportunity to learn about Hugo’s fascination with the natural world and how designers responded to his musings. The garden also features one of Guernsey’s most iconic landmarks, the Victor Hugo statue, which dates back to July 7th, 1914. Amongst the plant life, carefully selected quotes from Hugo’s works and private correspondence can be found, reminding visitors about the writer’s memorable time spent in Guernsey.
The local area is also host to a wide range of activities. The Garden is part of Guernsey’s Victor Hugo Trail, a popular tourist activity that will take you around some of the author’s alleged haunts. From gardens and markets to museums and piers, expect to make plenty of memories in the beautiful St. Peter Port.
Don’t fancy all that walking? Then feel free to stick around Candie Gardens, where you can visit the onsite museum, art gallery, and café. Or better yet, simply soak up the sun as you wander through the property’s sprawling gardens.
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