The (former) Botanical Gardens of Grenada

Grenada Botanical GardensOur 1970s guide books to Grenada show the location of St. George’s Botanical Gardens, though no mention is made of these gardens on the current tourist maps of the town.

Grenada Botanical GardensWondering how much of the gardens had survived the 2004 hurricane that knocked 90% of Grenada flat, Kris and I went looking for them using the old maps. We found their remains inside of the recently built Ministerial Complex…demoted to a “Visitor’s Park”, probably a third of its original size (damaged by the storm, or leveled to make space for the government buildings within the complex).

Grenada Botanical GardensWhat remained was unmistakeable, though: Single specimens of large and spectacular trees, palms, and shrubs bearing strange flowers or fruit.Grenada Botanical Gardens

We also came across a frangipani tree that was being devoured as we watched by two dozen of the biggest caterpillars we have ever seen in our lives. Seriously, these things were 7 inches long, 3/4 of an inch thick, and conspicuously marked. A mango vendor saw us marveling, came over, and explained to us that local people treat these caterpillars like pets (as he said this, he stroked the smooth, silky back of one caterpillar, and it happily let him do it) and that they become beautiful butterflies. I wonder if they’re big butterflies…

Grenada Botanical GardensWe only found one clue that these grounds were, indeed, the once-fabled botanical gardens of Grenada…the petrol station across the road was called “Botanical Gardens Service Station”.

Grenada Botanical GardensOne of the things we’d hoped to find was a Manchineel tree…in Spanish the tree is known as manzanilla de la muerte (little apples of death), an extremely poisonous tree that used to grow everywhere on the beaches around here, but is now endangered (systematically destroyed by people, because its bark, leaves, and fruit are all extremely poisonous. Of course, in a country that gets plenty of blasé and benighted tourists, it’s not surprising that the trees have been eradicated to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs. 😉

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13 thoughts on “The (former) Botanical Gardens of Grenada

    1. Seeing Grenada’s gardens re-purposed made me appreciate Darwin’s botanical gardens, too! Wish I’d spent more time there. Singapore’s gardens are another “wonder of the world” I could have, but never went to see…

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    1. Thanks, you said it, it felt magical…more so because it was in the middle of the most prosaic government location, stressed out people hurrying to and fro with their paperwork and applications to this or that department, not caring that the grounds around them were once some dedicated colonial naturalist’s life project. ❤

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    1. Thanks for the love, Catie! You’re right, I don’t do these questionnaires, but I’m flattered, anyway, that you think anyone would be interested in whether I eat while reading or not! ;D I’m not worthy of that sort of acute scrutiny.

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