Tuesday, April 16, 2024

STREET BEAT: Wildlife gardens in St Joseph

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Barbados is home to some of the most wondrous natural beauty spots, not only in the region, but the world.

Both are located in St Joseph, far away from other jungles made of concrete found in parts of areas such as St Michael, Christ Church, St James and St Philip.

The Andromeda Botanic Gardens and Hunte’s Gardens both feature a wide variety of flora and fauna and are well frequented by people from across the world. When entered, they envelop visitors into another world.

At Bathsheba, where Andromeda is located, caretaker Sharon Cooke said many Barbadians did not appreciate the value of their indigenous natural lands.

Austrian couple John and Silvia Jeitler enjoying the lush greenery of the Andromeda Botanic Gardens.

Incredible

“I don’t think people realise how incredible this garden is, it is one of the best gardens in the world,” she said, “We have 70 different varieties of palms alone and 80 varieties of trees. More Bajans need to come and see it as it is part of the Barbadian heritage.”

While it may not be as recognised locally, as she would like, Cooke said it was very well respected internationally.

“We are the only garden in the West Indies which is partnered with the Royal Horticultural Society, which is sending representatives here this year to do a story on us,” she said.

In addition, Cooke proudly pointed to an open book where visitor comments are penned. She highlighted the words of Roy Cheek, a famed member of the society and judge at the Chelsea Flower Show. In his remarks, he calls Andromeda “fascinating” with an “excellent balance of mature and young plants”. He goes on to say it is “one of the most unique and outstanding gardens in the world”.

All is not well with the gardens however, as Cooke said they were struggling to raise enough funds just to keep the gardens in its present state. She said the entire six acre property was run by a single paid member of staff and four volunteers, along with her and her husband Robert Crowhurst.

“We don’t make a profit here because we simply don’t make enough. I would like to keep the place better maintained – it’s nice how it is now, but it could look even better,” she said.

Across at Castle Grant, owner of Hunte’s Gardens, Anthony Hunte, said they operated with even fewer staff, just him and a single gardener, although the property is less expansive – two and a half acres.

Anthony Hunte (left) soeaking to some United States visitors before the tour.

huntes-gardens-2

Hunte’s Gardens may be smaller but it is no less incredible, with palm trees stretching high into the air and thousands of varieties of plants. There is the constant twitter of birds and monkeys could be seen jumping from treetop to treetop.

Hunte’s Gardens is unique as it is located in a gully and features scores of stone steps spiralling ever deeper into the garden where it stops at a small rest area complete with benches. Hunte said there was no place like it.

“Hunte’s Gardens is the most enchanting place on earth. We have hundreds of different trees and thousands of plants. You walk among the bygone days of a sugar plantation – we take the atmosphere of the past and place it in the present and future,” he said, adding the garden was number one on Tripadvisor.

Hunte said he was embarking on a new $50 000 anthurium and orchid project, which he funded himself. Unlike Andromeda, he said Hunte’s Gardens turned a tidy profit though the money he earned went right back into the garden.

“People spend their money here so I have to use that money to make the place look good,” he said. (CA)

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