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Started by Colin Soudain in 1957, the Shell Garden JERSEY, has become the largest of its kind in the world consisting of millions of locally collected mollusc shells.
The garden is truly unique; there is not another quite like it anywhere in the world. One of the reasons we are on the "net" is to find out about more of these unique creations around the world, and for the rest of the world to find out about us and our shells.
The most special thing about these type of creations is their innocence, certainly that is the case with the Shell Garden Jersey.
Colin Soudain started the Shell Garden for his own pleasure. When he started work on his garden in 1957 his only desire was to enhance the hillside surrounding his newly built house. He never imagined for one minute that the garden would one day become one of Jersey's most unique and popular tourist attractions giving pleasure and joy to tens of thousands of people, both local and tourists alike, every year.
Eleven years ago, Colin Soudain handed the management and creative direction over to me, John Morgan, and I have tried to carry on where Colin left off. Although the garden is now a business, all the additions I make to the garden are for my pleasure and other people's pleasure, and not for financial gain, therefore maintaining the original air of innocence by which the Shell Garden was created. Colin is still very much involved with the garden. Although he is nearly 80 years old, he still keeps very active and I keep him very busy making shell souvenirs for the shell shop. We are a great team and he supports me with all the work we do. That work is a continuous thing as we are adding more shells and works of art to the garden every year.
It's really quite difficult to describe the Shell Garden in words, it is so unique, so extensive, and the ambiance, the feeling of peace and tranquillity is so special, it's beyond the written word; you have to experience it for yourself and experience the world's greatest monument to innocence and the true spirit of Mankind.
As I explained earlier, the work in the Shell Garden is an ongoing thing - we are adding more shells to the garden every year. We collect the raw materials during the summer and carry out the work during the winter time, when the garden is closed to the public. Collecting the raw materials (the shells) is not such a problem as you might imagine because all marine life is abundant around Jersey's unique coastline. Jersey geographically is situated 110 miles (170 km) South of Britain and 14 miles (19 km) off the coast of France, on the boundary of the two oceanic areas: the Celtic sea to the North and the Lusitanian to the South. This location, coupled with the effect of the Gulf Stream and with our massive tides (43 ft, 13.4m, the third largest in the world on a high spring tide), gives Jersey a unique marine coastal environment. This means we have no problems with collecting shells because of all the reasons I've mentioned. They are abundant.
Our coastline is inhabited by species found nowhere else, or now extinct in the rest of the oceanic area. One mollusc worthy of mention is the Jersey Ormer (Haliotis Turberculata) a member of the abalone family (also known as ear shells), normally found in much more Southern waters. In fact the Channel Islands are the Northern most range of this species and, because of its culinary worth, it has been fished to extinction in the rest of the area of the French coast. It is now protected here in the Channel Islands and the species is safe.
There is a lot more I could tell you about our coastline; our waters and beaches are the cleanest in Europe - we have an award to prove it, and we are probably the greenest community in Europe, with our Government spending many millions of pounds every year to improve our environmental standards.
How to get here?
Jersey is a very beautiful place at any time of the year but if you want to see the Shell Garden, we are open from 1st April to 1st November from 9.45am to 4.45pm, seven days a week. We can be found on the A13, between the village of St Aubin's and St Brelade's Bay, on the main highway to the South-West of the Island from the Island's capital, St Helier. We are also on the Island's busiest bus route with at least one bus every 20 minutes on bus routes 12, 12A, 14 and 15 from St Helier Bus Station at the Weighbridge.
We charge a small entrance fee: £1.00 per Adult, (US $1.65, 10 French Francs). Children over 5 years old 50 pence, (US $0.85, 5 French Francs). French and English spoken. There are toilet facilities and ample parking.
The Shell Garden has its own Shell Shop with an extensive range of handmade shell gifts with thousands of items to choose from. We also have a vast range of natural shells both local and from all around the world.
Five of the most used shells to build the Garden are:
- The Jersey Ormer
- Emperor Scallop
- Common Cockle
- Moon Shell
- Edible Mussel
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Last updated: 11th of April 2000 by JerseyWeb