Government House gardener to retire after decades in job
GOVERNMENT HOUSE’S head gardener is set to retire this spring.
Gary Le Poidevin has worked in the grounds of the property, where the Lt-Governor lives, for more than 30 years and has served eight Lt-Governors.
‘I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to live and work here,’ he said.
‘It’s a wonderful working environment and a privilege to manage such an important and historic part of Guernsey’s landscape.’
Born in Guernsey, Mr Le Poidevin began training as an apprentice in the States of Guernsey’s Parks and Gardens department in 1972. He moved to Government House in 1983 as second gardener and was promoted to head gardener in 1995.
He has provided flowers for the house and produce for the kitchen, while maintaining 10 acres of grounds. His work has been enjoyed by countless official visitors, including members of the royal family, along with ambassadors, ministers and senior UK politicians.
‘It may not seem like it, but a lot has changed,’ Mr Le Poidevin said.
‘Years ago, we sometimes had cows grazing here, with hardly any public access. We now host many more visitors, with several major events each year. We’re also working on a strategy to enhance some areas, which I think islanders and house guests will really like. That’s something for my successor to take forward.’
As part of his duties, he has cared for specimens in the national camellia collection within the grounds of Government House, and has received many prizes for his cut flowers, especially dahlias, for which he won a national award in 1995. He receives invitations to judge local shows, including those in Jersey.
He has also served as president of the Guernsey Beekeepers’ Association and continues to manage hives within the grounds.
The Lt-Governor’s chief of staff, Major Marco Ciotti, said Mr Le Poidevin had faced some big challenges in his job.
‘After almost 37 years it’s hard to believe that Gary is moving on, but he leaves a strong legacy,’ he said.
‘His successor will be part of the next chapter in the house’s history, which includes some interesting plans for the grounds.’
He said that the life of the head gardener was not always predictable.
‘The blizzard that hit Guernsey in March 2013 took down several mature trees, some of which ripped up the drive and blocked the Queen’s Road entrance,’ he said.
‘Gary and his team certainly had their work cut out that week – for several weeks, in fact.’
Mr Le Poidevin was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal (Silver) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. He was presented with the medal last week in an investiture at Buckingham Palace, watched by his family. The award forms part of the Royal Victorian Order, founded by Queen Victoria as a way of rewarding personal service, on Her Majesty’s own initiative rather than by ministerial recommendation. The order remains entirely within the personal gift of the sovereign.
Mr Le Poidevin will retire in March 2020, when he and his wife, Ruth, will settle in a house that they have restored in northern France. A new head gardener has not yet been appointed.