Sowing the seeds for the National Garden Scheme to bloom in the Channel Islands

In 2022, the National Garden Scheme is expanding its garden openings into new territories including Northern Ireland and The Channel Islands. Synonymous with a balmy climate and wonderful growing conditions, the story behind how the gardens in the Channel Islands joined the portfolio is intrinsically linked to our founder and now key beneficiary, the Queen’s Nursing Institute. Nurses Patricia McDermott and Ellie Phillips explain: 

We would like to tell you about our journey of setting up the National Garden Scheme in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, but first let us introduce ourselves. 

Patricia McDermott: “I moved to Guernsey in 1994 from Northern Ireland. My plan was to stay a year and then go back to university to complete my Degree in District Nursing. I staffed on the wards for two years, saved my money and self-funded my degree and 28 years later I am still working on Guernsey. I was one of the youngest District Nurses and after several years I specialised in the field of Urology and Continence.”  

Ellie Phillips: “I moved to Guernsey in 1989; I am married to Shaun and have three children. My career has progressed with gaining my Masters Certificate in nursing and becoming established as the Tissue Viability and Lymphoedema Clinic Nurse Specialist, covering both primary and secondary care. I lecture on all aspects of Tissue Viability and Lymphoedema management to pre and post registered nurses. I am very proud to have introduced ‘Maggot Therapy’ to Guernsey in 1990. Patients now have this treatment in their own home instead of hospital, but even to this day I am referred to as the ‘Maggot Nurse’.” 

Queen’s Nurses in the Channel Islands

In 2019 the Channel Inter-Island Queen’s Nurses met up for the first time in Guernsey. We had lots of discussions about how we could raise the profile of the Islands’ Queen’s Nurses both locally and nationally.  

We also discussed the National Garden Scheme and realised they did not have a presence on the Islands, so we considered how we could have a similar open garden initiative here. As Guernsey is well known for its Guernsey Clematis nursery, especially at the Chelsea Flower Show, we had the idea to use this as an avenue to raise our profile. We contacted Raymond Evison (the founder of Guernsey Clematis) to see if this was a feasible option. Mr Evison encouraged us to pursue the idea to bring the garden scheme to Guernsey as this had also been an aspiration of his for many years. 

With Mr Evison’s gardening contacts and our enthusiasm, we started to make plans. We invited the Bailiff of Guernsey’s wife, Lady Corder, to be our Patron, which she graciously accepted. We invited current QNs, retired nurses and garden owners to be on the committee. Our plans where then put on hold because of the pandemic. 

Covid not only delayed our work with the National Garden Scheme but also meant that the 2020 Chelsea Flower Show was cancelled. Mr Evison was due to exhibit at Chelsea, so all his preparations would have gone to waste. But he had the idea of having a local Guernsey clematis show instead and inviting the local QNs and another local charity to be the beneficiaries of the fundraising. On a lovely sunny weekend in May 2020, we had two open days with thousands attending and over 2000 clematis plants sold. This event brought great pleasure to the Bailiwick as it gave the people an opportunity to see an award-winning display which had been planned for the Chelsea Flower Show (thank goodness Covid restrictions had just been lifted on the Island).   

Launching the National Garden Scheme in the Channel Islands

The Committee continued to beaver away for the next year. We identified potential garden owners and invited them to a presentation hosted at the Lt-Governor’s house. The local Queen’s Nurses gave a talk on the history of the Queen’s Nurses both locally and nationally. George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme gave a talk, and we answered all the prospective garden owners’ questions. Following this event, three garden owners agreed to open their gardens in 2022 and we hope more will follow in 2023 with Queen’s Nurses’ support. 

The positive outcomes are numerous: we have a better understanding of how the National Garden Scheme functions and raised the profile of Queen’s Nurses on the Island. We have had to be proactive with introducing this new initiative to Guernsey and most importantly, we have established great friendships and have had the privilege to meet and work with local garden owners. 

The very first gardens will open this year under the National Garden Scheme banner and many more in 2023. We hope that this will become an annual event in the Bailiwick. To find out more and plan your visit to a Guernsey garden open for charity, click the button below:


“From small acorns great ideas can grow”

Never in our wildest dreams when we first met in 2019 could we have envisaged that within three years we would be hosting the very first gardens opening in Guernsey to benefit the National Garden Scheme. Seeing the Bailiwick’s gardens in the National Garden Scheme’s Visitor’s Handbook was a very proud moment for us. We are very excited for the first opening at the end of June 2022, welcoming visitors locally and nationally and raising the profile of Queen’s Nurses and the work they do to deliver healthcare to people in the community. 

Main picture, left to right: Alison Carney (Clinical Nurse Specialist – Diabetes, QN) Patricia McDermott (Consultant Clinical Nurse Specialist – Urology, QN) Ellie Phillips (Clinical Nurse Specialist – Tissue Viability & Lymphoedema, QN)

With thanks to Alison Carney, Elizabeth Bell (Retired Community Paediatric Nurse), Raymond Evison OBE, VMH.


For more about the Queen’s Nursing Institute and the National Garden Scheme click here


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