Ventnor Botanic Garden: Refurbishment of terrace ‘a complete embarrassment’

A lifelong fan of the Ventnor Botanic Garden is less than pleased with the latest refurbishment to the lower terrace, calling it ‘a complete embarrassment’.

Ventnor Botanic Garden

An OnTheWight reader who is passionate about the Ventnor Botanic Garden, has been in touch regarding changes recently made at the lower terrace where the large pond is situated.

They told us,

“With an RHS designer/plantsman visiting VBG this week, it is a complete embarrassment that the lower terrace which was in need of refurbishment has been subject to a complete garden design disaster.

The attention to detail is nil, the lack of mature tree specimens indicative to the Mediterranean is lacking, the grass which offers places to sit with your dog and children has been removed. There is no hard landscaping or paving, the sparse crushed cotswold stone looks dreadful and needs breaking up.

There is no shade, which is what this area has always needed and the pond looks lost and completely out of place now. I would be very interested to find out who is accountable for this and what other people’s thoughts are about this subject.”

Completion of first phase only
Having not seen it ourselves, we got in touch with Chris Kidd, Curator at Ventnor Botanic Garden to find out more about the refurbishment.

He told OnTheWight,

“This new garden is part of the progression westwards and eastwards of our Mediterranean Terrace, in which we show plants growing in association with each other as they would in the wild.

This expansion has a phased programme of planting beginning with the large tree layer, now complete, as can be seen in the Olive Grove planted with fruiting cultivars.

The next phase will be the planting of the shrub layer, followed by the transitional flora sub-layer. On completion we anticipate our guests enjoying al fresco dining immersed within an authentic Mediterranean flora.

These developments resulted from our monthly Design Walks and collaboration with the VBG Friends Society.”

More photos of the changes can be found on the Friends of the Ventnor Botanic Garden Website.

Image: © Friends of the Ventnor Botanic Garden

Monday, 25th March, 2013 1:47pm



Filed under: Letter to the Editor, Top story, Ventnor

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66 Comments on "Ventnor Botanic Garden: Refurbishment of terrace ‘a complete embarrassment’"

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some people need to get out more if this is all they got to complain about


VBG matters! It’s worth talking about! Morally it’s still ‘ours’!

walrus and the eggman

Morally I could claim to own my neighbours driveway because they dont own a car and I need somewhere to park.
Legally, they own it and thats that. Legally, VBG is owned by the new owners. If you want that to change, vote for a new councillor, but for gods sake dont bleat on about moral ownership. It doesnt mean anything.


Lighten up, w&e…


but its not finished yet! bit harsh to criticise a work in progress, at least wait til its done to pass judgement


Is there any public information/signage in this area setting out the development plans & time scale for the plans.

If not then one can understand the assumption that this area is complete.

Andrea Richter
There is nothing on the Friends site to say this area in particular is still a work in progress. I haven’t seen any designs, drawings or plans, probably only privy to a select few!! It is obvious from the un-planted beds that there is still work to be done, but the hard landscaping when designing a garden area should be the first thing to be finished and… Read more »
walrus and the eggman
I remember the previous layout from when I was a child, 30 years ago, and it looked old and dated then. Its about time this work was done. You only need to look at the photos to see it is incomplete, and only have to read the start date of 6th March to realise that work is ongoing. It may not be to everyones taste. but I… Read more »
Andrea Richter

With respect, the tables and chairs are all laid out and it gives the impression it is a picture of the finished project. You can’t expect people to assume, because the start date is the 6th March, that it is incomplete without pointing this out, it has been ‘dressed’ for the photo.

walrus and the eggman
It certainly gives no such impression. Just look at the photo. Look at the absence of bedding plants and shrubs. Look at the absence of edging to the beds. It is clearly an unfinished project. So what if there are tables and chairs in place? Perhaps its simply easier to bring in the tables whilst there is space to drive a lorry in over the beds. Perhaps… Read more »
Andrea richter
The original letter was concerned about the ‘heavy work’ lack of mature trees and details, and my comment did point out the fact the planting of borders needed to be done, but my concern is the hard landscaping or lack of it. There is no information about the ongoing plan for this feature area anywhere on vbg or the friends site, so I’m afraid unless you actually… Read more »

Well said. Mud-flinging (how appropriate) is a sign of desperation in the fsce of ressonable points being made & having difficulty responding on the same terms.


…’face’ & ‘reasonable’ (where are my glasses?)

walrus and the eggman
Im not entirely sure what is at all unreasonable about saying that I disagree with your assertation that the photos give the impression of a finished project. They most certainly do not give that impression, as anyone can see. So far, I think it looks quite nice, and you disagree, but Im certain we can both agree that this is certainly not a finished project. If you… Read more »
Andrea Richter

I am talking about the HARD LANDSCAPING, that is structural, not planting or ‘bedding’
The HARD LANDSCAPING, ie the crushed cotswold stone is FINISHED.
I quote from the Friends website
‘By the end of the second week all of the new surface has been laid’
The design is in the detail, and tbh, I struggling to see any.

walrus and the eggman
Let me quote from your own comment: “With respect, the tables and chairs are all laid out and it gives the impression it is a picture of the finished project.” Not finished hard landscaping. A finished project. You say the design is in the detail. It is clear the detail is not yet complete, and the project is in no way finished. Why do you seem to… Read more »

Andrea, imo W&E is in this only for attention-seeking & winding-up purposes, & so there is nothing to be gained by responding to him.

May I wish you some respondents who know VBG well & are able to debate constructively your interesting & totally relevant points.

walrus and the eggman
on the contrary. I think VBG is an important place for the entire island. I have no wish to wind up anyone, but I wont have someone telling me that they are talking about only one aspect of a project when they have clearly stated that the photos look like a finished project, and I certainly wont just agree with the majority blindly, but would rather give… Read more »

I rest my case.


From my observations of the patterns of ‘certain’ commenters, this is good advice from Tryme.


If I’d sent a single letter to On The Wight stating how I thought the refurbishment was a complete delight, would that have been published as the headline instead? It should be made clearer that this is just an opinion. After all, how can you judge public opinion from a single letter?

Rhys Smith
As a fellow journalist and one which avidly reads Ventnor Blog/On The Wight as much as possible I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the articles featuring the Botanic Garden at Ventnor. It is clear for all to see that the community interest company that have brought this Phoenix from its ashes is keen to improve the infrastructure to support its Botany. This should be applauded by all… Read more »
Green fingers

Noteveryone agrees withwhat is happening to the botanical gardens so why shouldn’t we express our views? The article seems fair and balanced to me.

Rhys Smith


Would you have preferred the site became a holiday camp/housing development?


Are you suggesting that was the only other choice?

Green fingers
To suggest that if John Curtis had not come along and taken on the lease of the botanical gardens that it would be demolished and houses built on it is absurd. He was not the only bidder for the lease. Anyway I’m not necessarily against what’s he’s doing, but just that people should be able to express how they feel about what’s happening there. There are people… Read more »
Man in Black

What makes you think that it would become a holiday camp if not purchased by John Curtis, Rhys?

Simon Perry
Sorry Rhys, but we find your accusations completely groundless and below we’ll show why. If you are a journalist, isn’t the first rule of journalism to know a little of the subject that your writing about and if you don’t know, then get your research done before writing? (BTW Rhys, I searched the Website of the newspaper you claimed in your email address to be from, and… Read more »

If Rhys Smith really was a journalist, sub-editors would be tearing their hair out correcting the grammar! :-))

Simon, Once again the sinster forces of the Island are hiding behind a cloak of confusion, so that most people take their off the ball while they do their dirtywork… you watch, they are past masters of this and use all their masonic friends, business interests and council mafia to stoke fires and inflame the general flow of events to suit a host of interested parties. Journalist… Read more »
At the edge

Oh dear, sounds like the comment posted by Rhys Smith is perhaps instead from someone connected to the botanic gardens who didn’t like someone expressing an opinion on their work.

Accusing On The Wight of continually vilifying the gardens when there is no evidence to back it up shows Rhys Smith to be just someone trying to cause trouble. How transparent! Well done Simon for exposing him/her.

Green fingers

The silence is deafening. Why no response from Rhys?

Perhaps he/she has had second thoughts about pretending to be something they are not in order to wage an unwarranted attack on the people who run this site.

What saddos.

Janet Scott

I think most people reading Rhys Smith’s diatribe would have smelled a rat.

Journalists do their homework.

Andrea Richter
Totally agree with Rhys Smith about celebrating the IW and all it has to offer. John Curtis has certainly been a ‘Wight Knight’ insofar as VBG is concerned. The area the article is concerned with is an iconic view of VBG, seen in magazines and advertising. The idea of creating a Mediterranean, alfresco area is great, they could have created something really beautiful down there. The pond… Read more »

Let’s hope you’re right for the sake of the Island, but it’s far too early to declare at this stage. As John himself says, time is needed to see what develops from the changes that are being made.

Let’s judge his candidature of a Wight Knight-hood in a few years. To attempt to do so now is simply hollow.


How much is it to visit VBG now? I haven’t been since they started charging an admission fee (I used to visit twice a month previous) but I think it’s time to pay it a visit this spring with my family.

I think the refurbishment looks fine – these sorts of things need their surroundings to grow into.

This has to be set in the background of realtime societal events. OTW appear to be critical of what’s going on at VBG, not the place or the utility of pleasure gained from it. We’re in a time where the only growing industry in many places (including the island) are foodbanks, the global.. and uk…financial structure is in meltdown, energy shortage alerts, the slow erosion of the… Read more »
Andrea Richter

peaceful_life – sorry, could I ask you what you actually think of the design and leave the ranting to another forum??

Hi Andrea, missed this one. I thought it was perfectly clear what I think about the whole shenanigans, let alone the design. Ranting?….ok let’s look at this with reality goggles on. The economy is in decline as is the energy that runs said economy, result…. loss of jobs/wages/economic activity that’s also faced with rising costs of everything else, and this trend is set to continue thus far.… Read more »
Andrea Richter

Thank you for answering my question :)

…..meantime, in real societal event time… the way our democracy works is that we elect Councillors at *local level* to administer, manage and run the Local Authority for the residents of said LA. That task is controlled in no small way by Central Government, both politically and financially, and it is impacted by even wider implications from Europe and the World. The ‘global’ financial crisis is underpinning… Read more »
Andrea Richter

Guys, can we stick to the topic!!!


Absolutley, but lets not be to bound to a narrow premise.


Wightywight. And here in lays the paradox, if we relocalise at local level then we do indeed influence global events including the weather, it is then fair to say that local media outlets should be acting as a conduit to facilitate shuch changes. Energy and climate have a direct affect on economies in all localities, and that filters down to who….and who cannot afford to visit a… Read more »

..of course!



Find out who has paid for all the changes… it might be interesting! :-))


How would someone go about doing that now the gardens are no longer run by a public body (ie, foi requests not relevant)?


Here are some of the potential sources- the CIC itself, some of the £200,000 donated in the first year by IWC and the reserves of the Friends. The role of journalists is to ask questions. :-))

Andrea Richter
‘The CIC approached the Friends with a request for them to make a contribution to the cost of landscaping of the area. At the Executive Committee meeting on 20 February 2013 it was agreed that a grant of £10,000 would be made to the CIC as the Society’s contribution to the scheme. The total budget cost of the proposals is £15,000. The proposal was to remove all… Read more »
@samsalt Rhys…. ‘As a fellow journalist and one which avidly reads Ventnor Blog/On The Wight as much as possible I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the articles featuring the Botanic Garden at Ventnor’ pfl….. ‘OTW *APPEAR* to be critical of what’s going on at VBG, NOT the place or the utility of pleasure gained from it’ I was in fact….defending OTW, there was no mention of the… Read more »
OTW receive a rational letter about something happening at VBG, and – gasp! – they put it as a topic, quoting a few words in the headline to give a bit of a flavour of it. They contact VBG for a reaction, & put it in the article too – shock horror! That much I understand. What happens next I don’t; apparently we then had to choose… Read more »
walrus and the eggman
I agree with much of what you say, which surprises me as usually I find your comments to be invasive and condecsending. I think in this case, the coverage has been fair, although making it clearer in the headline that this is a letter and not the opinion of OTW would be an improvement, even though this is made clear in the article itself. What perhaps could… Read more »
You have tied youself in such knots in your last paragraph alone – people get accused of all sorts of things, & OTW should research every daft possibility before publishing? Even though you think the accusations “garbage”! What a lovely waste of time, when the sentiments of mine you say you agree with, cover all requirements. I suggest you start your own website & let us know… Read more »
walrus and the eggman

what are you on about?

Research every daft possibility? Im simply saying that perhaps in this case OTW should have seen for themselves and given their opinion with this letter.

Not in every case. Not before publishing everything. Just in this case.

Still, back to form tryme… arrogant enough to think yours is the only opinion which matters.


I don’t think you have researched the basis for your last sentence. (You are sounding familiar, btw…)