It goes without saying that we’re spoiled for beauty here in Bermuda and while we spend a lot of time honoring our pink sand beaches, sometimes our formal gardens lack admiration. This winter, rediscover our island’s best green spaces – we promise, you’ll be glad you did!
Best Garden for Kids: Botanical Gardens
This garden has a little bit of everything, from banyan trees that will keep the kids swinging for days, to plant houses and ponds that children of all ages will love to explore. It also has open parkland, of course, which is perfect for a game of football or frisbee. The rolling hills that lead down to South Road are simply begging to be rolled down, and the breeze on top of them is great for kite flying. Lastly, nearer to the Berry Hill Road side, the gardens have an aviary full of peacocks, which will fascinate children. Next door is the fabulous Masterworks Museum of Art, with accompanying café. Botanical Gardens is the best place for a family day trip, and is open from sunrise to sunset daily. Admission is free.
Best Garden for History: Somers Gardens
These small, lush gardens abound with deep green Monstera, colourful ornamentals, and towering palms. The gardens don’t take very long to walk around, but the tranquil spot provides an oasis in the heart of the town of St. George. With many benches to take respite, the gardens are a wonderful place to picnic and people watch. However, the garden’s claim to fame is that it is the burial site for the founder of Bermuda, Sir George Somers’, heart. Sir George Somers had so fallen in love with the island on his way to deliver provisions to the New World, that it was his wish to be buried here. When he fell ill and died, his Nephew buried the sailor’s tender heart here, but transported his body back to England where it was buried in a church grave. Somers gardens is open every day and admission is free.
Best Garden for Tranquility: Palm Grove Gardens
This secluded, private garden located in Devonshire is owned by Sir David Gibbons, former Premier of Bermuda. The copious grounds are managed by a private landscaping team, and give way to a sprawling family home on the east side of the gardens. The highlight of Palm Grove, known locally as Gibbons’ Gardens, is a lily pond with a map of Bermuda built into it. The garden also contains various other ponds, as well as a wishing well, moon gate, and vast array of palm tree species. A wonderful feature of the garden is an aviary full of parrots. Because of its secluded nature, the garden is seldom visited. It is open from 9am-5pm, from Monday to Thursday. Admission is free.
Best Garden for Exercise: The Arboretum
The Arboretum is a 22 acre national park located near Hamilton. It is not manicured like many other Bermuda gardens, giving it a much wilder appearance. Instead of cultivated flower beds, the garden consists of sprawling meadows and woodland, with pathways crossing it at various intervals. The park is also a bird sanctuary, with a large population of native cardinals and bluebirds, and even the chance to see rare migrants like woodpeckers. The park trails are ideal for jogging, and the park has exercise stations at various intervals. The large expanses of open parkland are also perfect for games of catch. Visitors will find it the perfect spot for capture the flag, badminton, football, cricket, and more. The Arboretum is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free.
Best Garden for Exploration: Fort Hamilton
This eerie Hamilton site is sure to keep you on your toes. A former British Garrison, many of the fort’s original construction still stands, with many rooms and catacombs to explore. Visitors can descend into the damp, limestone hallways of the fort and navigate inside. In addition, the fort is surrounded by a deep and impressive dry moat, which abounds with lush, tropical vegetation growing large in the shade. On city level, the fort’s grounds are full of kempt and organized flowerbeds. This dynamic site is sure to entertain the whole family. Visitors can explore the historical site from 8:00 am until sunset, any day of the year. Admission is free.
Best Garden for a Summer Picnic: Government House
Built in 1892 and still occupied by the acting governor of the day, Government House is located high up on a hill flanked by blackwatch pass. The property has lawns, tennis courts, and a swimming pool, and overlooks both the capital city and the pristine waters of North Shore. The gardens are vast and lush, containing many antique cedars and spice trees. Unfortunately, the gardens were closed to the public after the tragic assassination of the Governor Richard Sharples and his assistant in 1973. In the last few years, the wonderful grounds have been opened again to the public, who are encouraged to come on foot as there is no parking available on the site. The current governor, John Rankin, is excited to open the property to the public once more and encourages families to picnic on the pristine lawns. The gardens are only open on Sundays during the summer months.
Best Museum Garden: Verdmont
Located in Smiths, the Georgian-style house is owned by the National Trust and now contains a museum about Bermudian heritage and the history of the house. The house was built and maintained by slaves for 125 years, and is an important part of Bermuda’s African Diaspora Heritage Trail. Besides the wonderful architecture, the sprawling gardens stretching around the property are an impressive attraction and were grown in the 18th century. The garden is full of rose beds, palmettos, and ancient cedars, and is one of the oldest maintained gardens on island. One feature of the gardens is a citrus orchard, with trees that still flower and produce fruit. The property is open on Wednesdays from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm, and Fridays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. Guided tours are available.