Named after the Greek goddess, Andromeda Gardens in the St. Joseph parish of Barbados uses only organic gardening practices to maintain the impressive amounts of specimens that can be found there. It has been called one of the most outstanding and unique botanical gardens in the entire world.
Managed by the Barbados National Trust, Andromeda Gardens was first opened in the 1970s during a fundraising event. Prior to that, it was a private collection that was located around the home of a woman named Iris Bannochie. Iris was the preeminent horticultural expert on Barbados at that time, even winning multiple horticultural awards and medals (like the Veitch) for her work. (she died in 1988). The gardens welcome over 40,000 visitors a year.
The joy of visiting the gardens is wandering through the area and enjoying the beauty of the many different plants and trees located there. In fact, more than 600 species from many varied tropical environments are maintained on the grounds. Follow the beautiful, winding paths and try to see everything. Some of the plants at the garden are unique and can’t be found anywhere else in the Caribbean.
The paths are separated into two different lengths - a shorter path and a longer path. Both pathways have signs along the way, introducing visitors to each species of plant as well as a series of facts about them (including native area, preferred environment, etc). Each path leads guests through the fossil-encrusted boulders made of coral, which the garden was founded on after they were deposited on the shore after a geographical event. The stream that runs through the garden ends up in a small fishing village named Tent Bay, just downstream.
Don’t miss the native banyan, located at the center of what is considered the “upper” garden. This majestic fig tree grows larger and more impressive with every year it is alive. The palm garden, another must see, contains more than 60 different palm species of varying size and colors.
Another guest favorite is the succulent garden, with an extensive variety of cacti and other succulents arranged in a beautiful array to fully show the size and shape difference between the many varieties. The garden has recently been enlarged to also allow for a new agave as well as yellow and red kalanchoes. Make sure to check out the desert roses while there as well!
Be aware the Iris’s second husband still lives in the house that is located at the top of one of the higher rocks. The pink and white bungalow, made out of coral stone, is not open to visitors or tourists. However, it is appropriate to appreciate its beauty from afar (especially the huge veranda that looks out over the sea). It is a beautiful piece of architecture.
The botanical garden is open daily from 9:00am to 4:30pm, with the exception of Christmas. There is an entrance fee for all adults, but children (as well as trust members and RHS members) are admitted free of charge. This cost also allows guests to return to the garden an additional time in the three weeks following their visit.
While there aren’t many “special events” hosted at the gardens, they are home to a huge variety of classes (one of the main goals of the garden is to encourage an interest in gardening in people of all ages). Take one of the class offerings - Let’s Get Growing, Intro to Garden Design, Planting Design, Horticulture class of multiple levels. These class are diverse in nature and meant for every interest level. A full brochure is listed on the garden website, which includes the dates and times of each class as well as the cost associated. To reserve a class, contact the garden staff.
Occasionally, a visiting professor will stop by the garden and give a talk. These classes are often offered in conjunction with the West Indies University campus and are multi-week courses. Some of these courses may be able to be used for college credit as well. They will be posted on the website in advance.
Dining and Shopping
Andromeda offers a combined dining and shopping experience in its Gallery Shop. Grab a cold drink - lemon lime, ginger, or even a rum punch - as well as a house made dessert like a parfait, pain aux raisin, or some tarte aux pommes. There is even savory food served in the cafe Thursday through Saturday, featuring lasagna, sandwiches, and different quiches. Guests can view and even take home some of the art as well, featuring many local artists.
Andromeda Botanic Gardens, Bathsheba, St. Joseph, Barbados, Phone: 0-01-24-64-33-93-84