Buckle up readers, I went “rambling” off shore recently. Bermuda to be precise. What a beautiful place!
Needless to say I have a lot of photos still to go through, but I wanted to share with you my photos of the Bermuda Botanical Gardens.
Before we left I researched some things I wanted to tour specifically. As I am a rabid gardener, I have heard for a long time how spectacular the Bermuda Botanical Gardens were. And rather historic as far as botanical gardens go.
We took a bus from where the ferry docked in Hamilton to the botanical gardens in Paget Parish. The bus we rode is the number 7 and is considered the most scenic bus route, incidentally.
Where we got off was a bus stop sort of in between the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the botanical gardens.
When I had researched the gardens they looked different from what I found. There was also supposed to be a visitors center where you could buy bottled water and gifts.
Indulge your senses with a trip to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens, and experience the sweet smells and vibrant colours of roses, frangipani and flowering hibiscus. Established in 1898, these 36 acres have been a popular spot to walk and relax among the lush foliage for more than a century. Along with flowers, you’ll find a palm garden with native palmetto trees, a subtropical fruit garden and a sensory garden for the blind, with Braille signs fronting fragrant blooms and herbs. Greenhouses hold collections of orchids and succulents, and the grounds are also home to Camden House, the official residence of Bermuda’s Premier, and the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
Special Features: Good for Groups, Kid-Friendly, Wedding/Event Venue on Site
The Bermuda Botanical Garden was inaugurated in 1898. The 35-acre landscaped park located in Paget parish, numerous flowers, shrubs, trees & plantations including a vast collection of subtropical fruit trees, hibiscus, an aviary and Banyan trees. The Garden has large glass houses with cacti and orchids along with formal gardens and lawns. There is also an aromatic garden designed for blind visitors.
There is a Visitor Center in the garden area which is open from 9:30am to 3:30pm (Monday to Friday)….The Camden House is located at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. It is designated as the official residence of Bermuda’s Premiere and is an impressive colonial building with painted shutters and fretwork. Built in the early 1700s, Camden House is a great example of typical Bermudian architecture. It has a fine collection of art and antiques.
You can combine a visit to the Botanical Gardens with a free tour inside the Camden House. If you are carrying your lunch basket, there are picnic tables around this area for you to relax in the shades and enjoy your lunch. Alternatively for breakfast or lunch visit Homer’s Cafe. It’s located inside the Masterworks Art Museum within the garden area. There is also a cafe at the Visitors Center of the garden serving fresh fruits, salads, sandwiches, wraps, beverages etc.
Behind Camden House, there is a beautiful rose garden, and a kitchen garden showcasing many types of herbs and cut flowers. There is also an aviary here with peacocks, ducks and many other birds. Lawns stretch from here all the way towards South Road having many matured trees like cedars and acacias. Some of the lawns are bordered with beds of seasonal flowers like lilies, freesias and dahlias.
About the The Bermuda Botanical Gardens
169 South Road in Paget Parish DV 04. Or P. O. Box HM 834, Paget HM CX. Phone (441) 236-4201. Fax (441) 236- 7582. Since April 2002 part of the Department of Conservation Services of the Bermuda Government’s Ministry of the Environment. On Main Island. The largest local public garden by far. One mile from the City of Hamilton, they are open daily from sunrise to sunset, via Berry Hill Road, Point Finger Road and South Road. Bus routes 1, 2 and 7 go to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital nearby. Open 365 days a year. Free for 362 days (except during the Agricultural Exhibition every April). A mix of park, woodland, greenhouses, agricultural buildings and horticultural collections. A Bermuda National Park under the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986. Chiefly of interest for its trees, orchard, collection of orchids and Camden. Visitors should expect a fair amount of walking. The Bermuda Botanical Society – a Bermuda Registered Charity # 249 – provides them from its Visitor Centre (9:30 am to 3:30 pm) in the Gardens, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays 10:30 am year-round, weather permitting.
Main Address: The Bermuda Botanical Gardens
P.O. Box HM 20
HM AX Bermuda
Telephone: 1441 236 4201
Fax: 1441 236 7582
Director’s Name: P.J.Truran
Curator’s Name: Lisa Outerbridge
I loved the gardens. They are spectacular even in the sad state of disrepair they are in.
Locals I asked on Bermuda tell me government budget cuts are to blame. However, as in all things political, Camden House (think Bermuda’s White House) home of Bermuda’s Premier located at one end of the botanical garden grounds apparently has no expense spared on it. Ahh government, right?
But meanwhile there is NO Visitors Center, the is NO aviary (no clue where all the birds went – there were Macaws, Peacocks, Parrots, Chickens and who knows how many other birds.) And the rose garden? Didn’t see it. I know it’s there, but I did not see it which was a bummer.
Needless to say, contrary to what was advertised on one tourist website, there were no happy volunteers to show you around. We wandered around ourselves.
It was brutally humid and threatening thunder storms the day we toured and the gardens were eerily empty for summer. I do not pretend to understand the government of this island paradise but those gardens were established in 1898 and is home to many amazing plant specimens.
As FODOR’S says in a 2009 travel guide:
Established in 1898, the Botanical Gardens are filled with exotic subtropical plants, flowers, and trees. The 36-acre property features a miniature forest, an aviary, a hibiscus garden with more than 150 species, and collections of orchids, cacti, fruits, and ferns. In addition to these must-see sights is an intriguing must-smell one: the Garden for the Sightless. Designed primarily for the blind, it has fragrant plants (like geranium, lemon, lavender, and spices), plus Braille signage. Weather permitting, free 60- to 90-minute guided tours of the Botanical Gardens begin from the Visitor’s Information Centre at 10:30 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The sensory garden still exists, but needs love. The same with every garden space within the 36 amazing acres.
Frommers had this to say to potential travelers:
This 14-hectare (35-acre) landscaped park, maintained by the Department of Natural Resources, is one of Bermuda’s major attractions. Hundreds of clearly identified flowers, shrubs, and trees line the pathways. Attractions include collections of hibiscus and subtropical fruit, an aviary, banyan trees, and even a garden for the blind. A 90-minute tour leaves at 10:30am on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, taking you through lushly planted acres. Guests meet at the Berry Hills entrance near the Botanical Gardens Visitor’s Center. On the Tuesday and Friday tour, participants stop in at Camden, the official residence of Bermuda’s premier, for a look around. The cafe sells sandwiches and salads (soup and chili in winter). Early in 2008, the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art opened within a much-restored, much rebuilt building in these gardens. And in the spring of 2008, the Botanical Gardens launched an ambitious 5-year plan to introduce four separate gardens of themed plants, including a Japanese Zen Garden, a 17th-century-style English Parterre Garden, a 12th-century-style Persian Garden, and a Tudor-style Children’s Maze Garden.
The Japanese Zen Garden while lovely is struggling. The Parterre Garden, Persian Garden, and Children’s Maze Garden sit empty. And throughout the gardens not one fountain is running. Except in fairness, it is summer on an island so they also have to conserve water.
And yet, even as a victim of Bermudian government budget cuts so obvious it makes you wince if you are a garden lover, these gardens still shine and should be gone through. For me to see things like Bird of Paradise flowers just growing naturally, or amaryllis, and many other things including spice trees and big bushes of rosemary and lavender it was heavenly.
The problem I think with these gardens is the Bermuda Botanical Gardens fall under the purview of Bermuda Government Park System. We all know in the US that lovely phrase we’re from the government and we’re here to help….and the reality.
I have been searching and searching for a more comprehensive history of these gardens because they so captured my attention. Haven’t found much, but I did find an ancient New York Times article:
IN 1609, when Sir George Somers and his crew sailed from England to the Virginia Colony on the Sea Venture, they were shipwrecked between two reefs just off the coast of Bermuda, and thus were among the first to lay eyes on the lush primeval forest of cedar and palmetto that covered the subtropical archipelago. As Bermuda was one of the few island clusters in the world without a native population, early botanic observers had the opportunity to record flora untouched by human habitation before the 17th century — with the exception of the occasional shipwrecked crew that either perished or stayed on shore long enough to build a ship out of cedar and sail on.
In time, it was discovered that there are 17 endemic plants on the island (those that grow naturally nowhere else in the world), including the Bermuda cedar (Juniperus bermudiana), the Bermuda palmetto (Sabal bermudana) and the olivewood (Cassine laneana). Landowners’ wealth was judged by the number of cedars on their estates…
Mind you my research while it doesn’t find much on the history and early horticulturalists of the Bermuda Botanical Gardens has turned up that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is also based in/around these gardens.
So how is it they do not seem to want the gardens to shine? How can the Premier of Bermuda ignore what is literally outside his front door?
I noticed there is a citizens group on Facebook called Take Back Our Park They organized because of a threat of development of a maintenance yard there. So yes, imagine a public works department complete with all that a public works facility entails in the middle of your favorite park. (Read this letter in a local Bermuda paper about it.)
Thankfully, on June 28, 2018 the Bermuda residents prevailed and the Botanical Gardens were saved from that plan. (Read this article in the Royal Gazette.)
I hope these people persist and get some attention and funding directed towards these gardens. I am happy to be able to share my photos with all of you. It really is a special place.
At one end of the grounds close to where the aviary I think was is a museum and a cafe. The museum is the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
Homer’s Cafe inside the museum is run by a local catering company called The Salty Lime.
The cafe is lovely and the people warm and welcoming. The museum is quite interesting but the staff at the front desk of the museum aren’t particularly welcoming, or at least the woman I encountered wasn’t.
The permanent collection of the museum includes works by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth and Henry Moore. The museum is dedicated to Bermuda. Everything in it depicts things inspired by Bermuda. Paintings, sculpture, photography and more. It covers the range of time from 1700 until today. I believe the museum was founded in 1987. It is quite unusual and as a tourist I would not have known it was something to see except for the fact I stumbled upon it.
In the courtyard of the museum and cafe is this sculpture dedicated to former Beatle, John Lennon. As I discovered in an old AdWeek article:
The British musician and artist spent several months in Bermuda during his last trip abroad, and the island served as his muse. Bermuda pays special tribute with “Double Fantasy,” a sculpture dedicated last year in Lennon’s honor.
Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art commissioned local sculptor Graham Foster to create the six-foot Cor-Ten steel structure. The work shows a stylized double-sided profile of Lennon and his “granny” glasses with his Rickenbacker guitar, doves of peace, and the double fantasy freesia flower. At approximately 4,000 pounds, it’s a weighty piece, and sits on a raised flowerbed in a courtyard near the museum’s entrance. The sculpture is located in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens, on the island’s south shore in Paget parish.
Read more about the Double Fantasy sculpture on THIS WEBSITE.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos and if traveling to Bermuda, try to visit the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Especially because I feel they may be at risk. As I continue to go through my photos I will add other posts about Bermuda.
Thanks for rambling along to Bermuda this evening.
How about that? A fiery Atlantic Ocean sunset.
Recently we went to Bermuda…and yes I will be writing it up and sharing photos because I had an amazing time!
But here is a photo to start you off.