Month that should not be in garden calendar
On February 16, 1659 a cheque was used for the first time in Britain by a Nicholas Vanacker, to settle a debt.
With only 20 square miles of land to appreciate, surely we should take advantage of our climate and maintain what we have left of nature’s bounty. For if not, like Mr Vanacker, we too will have to settle a debt to a future generation.
What does one do in the garden in February?
I have concerns that the appearance of the island’s landscape is failing us in many ways. We have weed-ridden roads, and grass footpaths that are, in reality, covered in weeds with little or no grass per se; within a short time of being mowed they are, once again, visually and functionally unattractive.
We have many areas of open space taken over by invasive species. When left “as is”, they flower and seed annually, and disperse their seed to other areas either by wind or birds. The landscape is not a static entity, therefore consideration to cost both present and future is imperative if controls are to be put in place.
What you create, you have to maintain — or that is the theory. For example, one can see immediately the problem with having footpaths of grass, eg Whale Bay Road, or planting an area and not being able or having the staff to continue its maintenance.
Looking at the aesthetics from a tourist viewpoint, there is much that could be improved.
The Botanical Gardens is really a glorified park, with very little labelling of plants or informative plaques; the Arboretum — which should be a botanical garden devoted to trees — appears to be used more as a training circuit and for evening activity. The Railway Trail is a bright spot in that the charity Friends of the Bermuda Railway Trail has done great work at the eastern end of the island in upgrading the paths and installing bridges, but there is still lots to do to join east and west. Dockyard continues to limp along and, being the premier port, is overladen with pedestrian traffic to the demise of the landscape. When first designed, Dockyard had one cruise ship; it now has two with quadruple the amount of passengers and the same design layout.
Office blocks in Hamilton have the ubiquitous planters which, in many cases, are not maintained and are often too small to make a statement. Both Victoria and Par-la-Ville parks add greatly to the enjoyment of the city and are areas to relax and reflect from the hubbub of their surroundings.
The Department of Conservation has produced a very informative book entitled Indigenous and Invasive Plants of Bermuda. Unfortunately, many of the plants recommended are not available at any of the nurseries or even the government nursery. Thinking ahead and to the big picture, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to create a master plan for all government green areas which involved culling all the “nasty” plants and encouraging the growth of indigenous and native species?
Coupled with this, it would be good to encourage Bermudians to become involved in the field of horticulture through a national certification scheme that would train people in the science of horticulture. An ideal location, which was once a first-class property, is Southlands in Warwick. It contains the fundamentals of a landscape ie arboriculture, plant nursery practice, turf culture, design and implementation, pest and disease problems and maintenance.