Due to a lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled
Bermuda, with a landmass of 21 square miles and a population of around 63,000 can, in most areas, hold its head high.
Covid has been damaging to the economy and Bermudians have suffered in numerous ways. Thankfully, we are surrounded by the ocean, and we have a pleasant climate most of the year.
By now you are probably thinking, there must be a “but” coming, and you are correct!
In times of hardship, our island landscape becomes a haven of peace and quiet that can be visited and explored to bring us back to the reality of life and Mother Nature – who is usually personified as a woman – is presented as a guiding force of creation. The discussion on that is another topic……………..
Most properties have their own garden or a piece of land to relax or work to create a flower garden or vegetable plot or to while away recreation time.
We also have the Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum – as well as small enclaves of greenery along our coastline and tucked away in hidden corners – which I would suggest are not used as much as they could be.
Added to this are the railway trails, Fort Scaur, Spittal Pond, several smaller forts and parks in Hamilton and St George’s and let us not forget the Royal Naval Dockyard – not bad for a small island.
However, are these areas being used enough by locals and tourists to educate, enjoy, learn and relax? If not, why not is the question.
Unfortunately, many of these areas are run down. Yes, we had a bad year in 2020 but this problem has been around for a while.
As a tourist-orientated island with limited space, all persons should be encouraged to use, learn and enjoy these areas. Unfortunately, we have been lacking in this exercise; at both the Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum the grounds are in a very poor state of repair and maintenance.
The Botanical Garden should, I believe, grow as many plants found in Bermuda as is possible with an emphasis on plants from the time of the island’s settlers to the present day – what an education for our young students, locals and tourists, history brought to life – with information on raised platforms detailing usage, provenance etc.
The same approach should apply to the Arboretum, which should house specimens of as many trees as possible that grow in Bermuda. Railway trails could be planted with endemics and native plants, again with information signage to offer interest and educate. The National Trust do a great job of maintaining nature reserves and provide a haven of peace and quiet for visitor; there is also the bonus related to the history of the associated buildings.
It is a shame many of these areas are not visited or indeed highlighted as places to visit. The more they are visited the more interest will be generated in both, encouraging others to visit. In tandem with the interest will come a level of higher maintenance; one will feed off the other.
If not used, there is a good chance many of these areas will deteriorate and be overtaken by ‘invasive species’ which will in time overpopulate the areas to the point they will be on no interest to anyone.
Time and tide wait for no man and Mother Nature has a mind of her own. If we do not plan our approach to keeping the landscape healthy and robust it will, in a timely fashion, regress.
This year has to date been unusual; winter was longer and very uncertain, whilst the summer growth and flowering were a month later than normal.
There has been a surge of growth over the last month in both “garden” plants and invasive species; this should be a reminder that we are nearing the hurricane season with the prospect of severe damage in heavily populated areas of growth especially woodland areas.
Now is the time to take stock of garden and woodland areas to determine the need for reducing the potential of storm damage by culling and pruning heavily treed areas with excess foliage.
In a nutshell, what you see is what you get; maintenance which covers pruning, mowing, pests, disease and weed control, fertilising etc, is the name of the game for both a well-presented landscape and reducing costs in the future.
Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the UK. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society