Tom and I enjoy working at English Camp, the prettier and nicer of the two parts of San Juan Island Historical Park. I’m not bragging – English Camp is on a protected bay, the British spent more money building and equipping it, and they took better care of what they had. Even the park movie says that English Camp is much more pleasant than American Camp. One beautiful aspect of English Camp is the formal garden.
The formal garden was first built in 1867 when Captain Delacombe, commander at English Camp, brought his wife and three children over from England. The Delacombes built a beautiful house on the top of Officers’ Hill. Then Captain Delacombe had the soldiers put in a lovely garden with hedges and flower beds. One book I read said that he did it so Mrs. Delacombe wouldn’t be homesick. The formal garden served as a transition zone between the enlisted men’s area and the officers homes.
Today the formal garden still looks much as it did back in 1867. The garden was restored in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the resolution of the boundary dispute in 1972. Because we have many photographs of the camp, they were able to put it in the exact location. They placed shrubs in the same places and planted some of the flowers that were on English Camp supply ship’s manifest lists from 1867.
Our maintenance crew plants the flowers and trims the shrubs. I have done some of the weeding – although so few weeds have grown that I haven’t had to do much. Tom spends an hour watering the garden every morning. He uses water from cisterns built by the British Marines. Watering is necessary now because we have had less than 1 inch of rain in the last 80 days.
The British Marines who lived here in the 1860’s were proud of the beauty of their camp. They worked willingly to keep the formal garden beautiful. Today Tom and I are also proud of the beauty of our camp, especially the lovely formal garden.