It is one week since the signing of a 125 year lease for the Ventnor Botanic Garden (VBG) from the IOW Council to a Community Interest Company (C.I.C.). We burned up most of the runway negotiating the lease and the transfer, so we had to introduce our initial changes with the plane already in the air. We appreciate the patience of all our visitors while we cut stone for the new entrance, fine tune the entry fees, and change our signs. All the rain did not mix well with wall building.
And many more changes are underway. At their last Executive Meeting, The Friends selected their first project for the new era as interpretive signage . I am looking forward to seeing how innovative our botanical approach is compared to Kew and others. Chris Kidd, Curator, will be also be doing Curator’s Talks to shed more light on what a treasure VBG is in the international botanical community.
To add to the throng of visitors wanting to know what is going on, Matt and Cat, the dining critics, dropped in on Martyn Cutler, the head chef at the VBG Café. He responded by providing a picnic like no other. Their video on Twitter says it all.
Hats off to the VBG staff who have been answering every question imaginable from all range of visitors. We have had a lot of explaining to do to help get the reason for the changes across. Visitors don’t see the loss of our Council subsidy, they see change. They certainly don’t see that two six month parking permits used to cost more than an Annual Pass and Friends membership today. While we had a town meeting in March, provided interviews for the County Press, posted our proposed pricing on the Ventnor Blog, and e-mailed a price schedule out to many of the Friends, it is still a big change on the day. We are also learning that some of our visitors missed these communications, so we are moving to other channels to get the word out.
We have also been busy getting interns, apprentices, and placements underway. The first five are in place – we even have one in the kitchens. It is great to have aspiring students of horticulture from Germany, Italy, France, and from the RHS here working with us.
We were visited by the actor Julian Wadham this week who was very taken with the Tropical House and Puya plants, he also enjoyed a pint of Tropicale in the cafe.