The modern gardens (1944 - today)
Today we at National Parks Rivers and Beaches Authority aim at maintaining the gardens as an attractive, alluring, peaceful, soothing retreat where once can retire to admire the many beautiful trees, flowers, lush lawns and colourful foliage plants; or just relax in a tranquil shady atmosphere. For those with deeper botanical interest there is much to feast the eyes on and exercise the intellect.
The botanic garden now concentrates on the introduction and propagation of desired ornamentals and some fruits, viz, mangoes, avocado pears, citrus, pineapples and black pepper. Introductions of interesting plants are made from time to time to maintain and add to the collection.
There is a lovely and varied collection of hibiscus, ixora and bougainvillea, many beautiful tropical trees including the dazzling yellow poui, the red flamboyant, the immortelles, and various cassias such as the nice little c. biflora, the showy c. multijuga, the graceful c. fistula or golden shower, and the spectacular pink apple blossoms – c. javanica and c. nodosa. The beautiful purple and white petreas at their best in March/April, the incomparable poinsettias, double red, pink, yellow and white. A nice collection of frangipanis (plumeria) adorns the upper slope, supplemented by showy yellow ebonies from Jamaica, purple jacarandas, yellow and red cordias, the red African tulip tree (spathodea), kopsias; a whole range of white, pink, mauve, red and yellow bauhinias. Oleanders and allamandas too add their quota, along wit the bright yellow platymiscium (roble), the rare colvilleas, lignum-vitae and Jamaica akee (blighia).
There is a nice collection of palms, tall and graceful, short and bushy, including the much sought after red-sheathed sealing Wax Palm. Useful trees such as mahogany, teak, samaan, red cedar, bullet, brazil nut, sapucaia nut, para rubber, castilloa rubber, and manihot glaziovii are there. So too spices such as nutmegs, all spice, cinnamon, cola, sapote, black pepper, cloves, vanilla, camphor and bay leaf. There are logwoods, calabash, browneas, albizzias, tamarind, gliricidia, casuarinas, angelines, breadfruit and breadnut, eucalupti, the leper oil tree, the strychnine tree and the much admired cannon-ball tree, a never falling favourite with strangers. The broadly spreading banyan, the variegated fig (ficus), the true fig, the variegated pandanus (screwpine) and the resplendent queen-of-flower tree together with the towering sterculia, mountain cabbage palms and the monkey pot tree, about complete the lot. There too, such notable exotic as the African baobab, the Peruvian balsam, the sausage tree; the candle tree and some unidentified specimens.
Before we close the list of trees though we must mention the incomparable mangosteen, reputed to be the best testing fruit in the world; and the one and only spachea perforata – a tree known from St. Vincent only.
There are a good many hedge-plants including acalyphas, barleria, thunbergia, pedilanthus, plumbago, “crotons”, aralias, graptophyllum, Barbados pride, eranthemum, casuarina and others. There are the famous travellers’ palm trees (Ravenaia), the bird-of-paradise (strelitzia) and recently lots of heliconias, gingers, alpinias, and the unique Hawaiian torch lily. The brilliant Easter lilies set the paths ablaze at Easter competing with the ever-blooming and unsurpassed tropical and lotus water lilies, the water hyacinth and the yellow water poppy for pride of place. A nice collection of shade-lovers including a host of impatiens, anthuria, calladia, tree and other ferns, begonias, xanthosomas and dieffenbachias or “dumbcanes”, about complete the list of attraction here. The highly scented ylang-ylang (canangra odorata) and the lady of the night (cestrum nocturum) together with the coffee and citrus in bloom impregnate the air with a wholesome, seductive fragrance.
Recently many conifers have been added among them the lovely Italian cypresses, araucarias, thujas, junipers, some pine (pinus) and potocarpus.
The above plants by no means exhausts the list but suffice we trust to what the appetite.