SHE is famed in the world of camellias, has led international conventions to China, helped shape Durrell wildlife as we know it, and been instrumental in setting up the RJAHS’s Spring Show.
But this week Islander Violet Lort-Phillips faced an entirely different challenge – turning 100.
She celebrated her landmark birthday on Tuesday at her home with over 50 friends and family and, ever the charitable giver, instead of presents she asked people to donate to the Island’s Army Benevolent Fund.
A special plant – a rare magnolia – was also planted at Durrell wildlife park yesterday morning in honour of her commitment to the charity, where she was chairman of the landscape committee for many years.
Mrs Lort-Phillips, wife of Raymond, who served in the Scots Guards and died in 1980, moved to Jersey from the New Forest in the 1950s and lived at La Colline, Mont de Gouray, which has since been turned into apartments.
The house’s gardens were often opened up to the public to raise money for charity and Mrs Lort-Phillips, or Vi, as she is known to her family, is well known among both the local and international horticulture communities.
During her long life, in which she also had three children, she travelled widely as president of the International Camellia Society and led two international conventions, including one to China.
She was also a member of the International Dendrological Society and visited gardens and places of interest across the world.
Locally she is known for her work with the Jersey branch of the Camellia Society, which persuaded the RJAHS to hold a spring horticultural show.
And horse-lover Mrs Lort-Phillips was also one of the founder members of the Jersey Association for Youth and Friendship, which set up hostels and half-way houses for teenagers and is still in existence today.
She is now cared for in a cottage in the shadow of the new La Colline apartments and has fond memories of her long and very active life, which, according to her son Guy, has been the secret to her longevity.
‘She has led such a full life,’ he said. ‘Time has passed happily and quickly and taking on her different responsibilities have contributed to her very healthy life.’
At her party on Tuesday Mrs Lort-Phillips was presented with her telegram from the Queen by the Lieutenant-Governor, Lieutenant-General Andrew Ridgway. They are pictured with Mrs Ridgway.nextpageMrs Lort-Phillips celebrated her landmark birthday on Tuesday Picture by Matthew Hotton (00628854)nextpageBagpipes provided by the Scots Guards for the wedding day in 1929nextpageHorses were another love of Mrs Lort-Phillips’s lifenextpageThe BBC filmed Gardeners’ World in Jersey in 1981. Here presenter Geoffrey Smith visits La Colline, Gorey, the garden of Mrs Lort-Phillips nextpageLee Durrell, Mayda Reynolds and Caryl Kemp plant the magnolia tree at Durrell wildlife park. Picture by Richard Wainwright 00631315)nextpageIn the gardens at La CollinenextpageMrs Lort-Phillips with her husband, RaymondnextpageMrs Lort-Phillips with the Lieutenant-Governor and Mrs Ridgway. Picture by David Ferguson (00631513)