While the City of Hamilton and other parts of Bermuda feature more formal parks, the Town of St. George favours cottage gardens tucked into nooks and crannies, hidden behind natural stone walls or in spaces between buildings. Often a cascading vine, bougainvillea perhaps, or passion flower or allamanda, is the first clue there might be a garden behind a wall. The Town’s many lanes, steps and alley ways are often edged with flowers, shrubs and trees so that sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the public and the private but it’s always worthwhile taking a peek over walls and hedges. Of course, in the past, gardens weren’t just ornamental; they were thesource of medicinal remedies, dyes, culinary herbs, pot pourri and fruits. And so today, prickly pear, cochineal, rosemary, Bermuda roses, citrus and peach trees are often featured. But Bermuda cedars and olivewood barks, as well as scarlet cordia and frangipani are popular choices, too.
Here is a suggested route for a walking tour around St. George’s better known gardens.
Start at the Globe Hotel the National Trust Confederate Museum and Trustworthy shop on York Street where you will find a tiny garden between the museum and a gift shop. Continue up York Street and turn right onto Pound Alley and onto King Street where you’ll find Reeve Court’s parterre Chinese boxwood garden and an edible garden, both open to the public. Nearby Bridge House is not open but its roses and allamanda can easily be seen. Below Buckingham you’ll see a bust of Irish poet Tom Moore taking centre stage in a separate garden. Cross Duke of,York Street and drop into Somers Garden, well worth a visit for palmetto and families of tall palms. Besides, Sir George Somers’ heart is apparently buried here. Next, turn into Kent street and you will find on the left the St. George’s Historical Society Museum’s garden whose upper and lower levels feature dry stone walls, vines, cedars and palmetto, bananas and lantana as well as roses, begonias, and geraniums. Bermuda’s endemic maidenhair fern sprouts from the steps leading to the entrance. Walk back onto Featherbed Alley onto Church Lane, which runs along the back of St. Peter’s Church. Turn right along Queen Street until you come to the National Trust’s Old Rectory on Broad Alley. This charming cottage garden is known for its rare white, rather than the more common purple, bermudiana flowers. It boasts many trees, including mock orange, bauhinia, pomegranate, guava and lime as well as an array of pink, white and red roses.
Turn back along Queen Street and you’ll come to the perfumery, Lili Bermuda operated from the Bermuda National Trust’s historic property, Stewart Hall. Gnarled stems of rosemary are particularly striking while lantana, rich red bougainvillea and, roses add to the charm of this winding garden.
Continue down Silk Alley, cross Duke of York Street until you come to Barber’s Alley where you’ll find on your left, the half hidden Smith Garden, donated to St George’s by the Bermuda Garden Club whose volunteers maintain it. Surrounded by lantana, cascading bougainvillea, and with benches carefully placed, it’s the perfect place for quiet meditation.
Barber’s Alley (named after Joseph Hayne Rainey’s occupation while he stayed in Bermuda during the Civil War – see St. George’s Museums) leads to Water Street. Turning left on Water Street will take you to King’s Square.