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Image problem at Botanical Gardens forces BTA to pull photograph

An embarrassment: The state of the formal gardens last week, above, and how they looked in their prime, below (top, photograph by Akil Simmons, below, BTA photograph)

The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been forced to pull a misleading image of the Botanical Gardens from its website – because the old photograph of manicured flower beds is a world away from the state of the grounds at present.

The BTA website said in a profile of the gardens: “Indulge your senses with a trip to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens, and experience the sweet smells and vibrant colours of roses, frangipani and flowering hibiscus.

“Established in 1898, these 36 acres have been a popular spot to walk and relax among the lush foliage for more than a century.”

The description was accompanied until last Friday by a photograph of the attraction’s formal gardens in full bloom, taken on an undisclosed date.

Photographs taken by The Royal Gazette in recent days showed that the gardens have been neglected for some time.

The BTA was notified about the problem by the Gazette last Tuesday.

A spokeswoman confirmed last Friday that the image had been removed and replaced with one of the Double Fantasy memorial to musician John Lennon, who spent time on the island.

The news came after a Government landscape architect warned earlier this month that the gardens could be lost for ever unless immediateaction was taken.

Pressure groups have since demanded the Government act to improve the condition of the gardens.

A spokeswoman for Facebook group Take Back Our Parks said: “The Botanical Gardens are Bermuda’s back yard.

“It’s where everyone goes, where families go. We need to get our pride back – our pride in the Botanical Gardens and our pride in how Bermuda looks.”

The spokeswoman added that one of the buildings in the Paget park had been allowed to become a ruin.

She questioned why the former showpiece had been allowed to deteriorate so much.

The spokeswoman said: “It is a listed historical property that used to be the headquarters for the parks department.

“The roof has caved in and there are trees growing out of it. Why is government allowing these important historical building to just rot away?”

“It’s disheartening. Trees have been broken by hurricanes and buildings are collapsing.

“Parks are important and it’s disheartening to see how they’ve fallen away.”

She added: “A big part of the problem is a lack of management.

“Maybe it’s time government gave consideration to a Government-funded private entity taking over the management of the gardens”

A spokeswoman for the campaign group Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce said that the gardens had suffered from “prolonged neglect”.

The BEST spokeswoman said: “Although the Botanical Gardens boasts a wide range of nationally and internationally significant values, pressing management issues, operational needs and prolonged neglect have crippled the effectiveness of any management plan.

“Strategic interim measures need to be urgently put in place.”

Jennifer Flood, the executive officer of BEST, added: “Originally set up as an agricultural station to discover which plants and animals would thrive here, many changes over the years and the major addition of the Camden property saw the garden become a beautiful, well-kept treasure trove of individual plant and trees and important collections.

“Not only beloved by the local population, it was a major attraction to tourists, seeing tens of thousands of visitors throughout the year.

“Sadly, despite being promoted as a must see in Government literature, the value of the garden has not been truly appreciated by these same policymakers, leading to defunding and staffing shortages.”

Wayne Furbert, the acting public works minister, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Published November 29, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated November 29, 2021 at 4:46 pm)

Image problem at Botanical Gardens forces BTA to pull photograph

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