Photos: Robbin Whachell
Grand Bahama Island - The Garden of the Groves, founded by Wallace Groves in 1973 and owned by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, was considered one of the finest botanical Gardens in the Caribbean before the hurricanes of 2004. The gardens were devastated and they have sat untended since then, that is until two wonderful people decided to bring them back in order in November 2007. Erika Gates of Grand Bahama Nature Tours and Michelle Hanson formed Bahamas Parks, Gardens & Recreation and have been working diligently as the dynamic duo on the return of the Garden of the Groves. The Grand Bahama Port Authority committed to fund the restoration up to its re-opening, at such time Bahamas Parks, Gardens & Recreation will begin leasing the property.
Besides extensive tending to the fauna and foliage, damaged buildings have been removed and nine new pump systems for waterfalls, circulatory ponds and fountains were purchased and installed by the Port Authority. The one surviving alligator will be transferred to Florida to a more suitable environment while about twelve surviving turtles (Red-Eared Sliders) will remain at the Garden and are thriving.
The Garden of the Groves has more than 10,000 species of flowers, shrubs, trees, and exotic plant life, and because of such, attract many birds and butterflies. Along its shaded, winding paths are several waterfalls, and an old-fashioned chapel on the hill a favourite place for weddings, prayer or meditation has received a face lift, new doors and new chairs will be arriving soon. The chapel will be consecrated (non-denominationally) shortly after the re-opening.. Plant-species signs are being created and will be posted throughout the garden to educate the visitors.
It is now the home of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth. It has been (and will be again) an ideal spot for photographs, weddings, events or simply a serene setting for quiet reflection. A new three-tiered deck area, to be called the “Lofty Fig Deck” is under construction. It will have a café and will be an ideal location for tea parties and other events, as it stands under the majestic fichus tree, which was planted for the opening of the Gardens in 1973.
Stay tuned for the public re-opening announcement and upcoming events in late summer 2008. The new management of the Garden of the Groves have many exciting things in store for the grounds and the attractions to be offered which will be enhanced and unique. www.TheBahamasWeekly.com will be providing regular updates on the progression.
The Garden of the Groves has been sorely missed by tourists and locals alike, and the return of the Garden has been highly anticipated and anxiously awaited. Hats off to the dedication and hard work of Gates and Hanson!