The first thing we saw when we arrived at Sunnyside Gardens was tortoises. Lots of them. Randy picked one up and turned it on its back. It’s a ritual they’ve engaged in more than once.
Randy lives and works on the property with his parents, and his wife and son; his mother planted the five acres of Sunnyside Gardens on a derelict site in the 1970s, and Randy grew up here, in the family business. Today, rain forest plants and exotic flowers grow between ancient mahogany trees. The garden also includes fish ponds and an immaculately landscaped Japanese garden.
The tortoise Randy flipped over glared at him, then righted itself and walked indignantly away. “They like it here,” he said. “Lots to eat, and no predators.”
Like everywhere in Grenada, the garden is built on the side of a hill. Standing by a tree with a mass of multi-coloured plants clustered improbably at its base, we could look down to the sea and across to the capital city, St Georges.
In Your Bucket Because…
- The garden is a riot of colour and full of the scent of spices
- Randy and his mother are entertaining hosts
- Good for: garden lovers
Birds and Bats
Leading us across the sloping lawn, Randy stopped to describe some of the seemingly endless species of creeping vines, tall coconuts, vibrant hibiscus, lilies and fruit trees. He stopped by a traveller palm, showing us how the tree holds water between its leaves, then pointed to a tiny hummingbird whizzing past. “We get lots of birds here,” he told us. “And at night time the fruit bats come to pollinate the trees.”
“Why don’t the birds eat the cherries?” someone asked, indicating a tree laden with ripe fruit. Randy laughed. “They’re already full up with mangoes and papaya by the time they reach the cherries.”
Grenada is sometimes called the Spice Island and the sweet scent of spices is evident as you walk around the gardens. Randy quizzed us on the smells as we went: vanilla pods, cloves, bay leaves. Then we reached the Japanese garden, where an artificial waterfall (built by Randy) trickles down the hillside. Nearby a little bridge crosses a stream and I longed to trip across it and explore the garden that stretches tantalisingly into the distance. Another time, I thought, as I reluctantly dragged myself away and ran to catch up with the rest of the group.
Later, we sat on the patio, sipping glasses of ice-cool rum punch, and gazing at the gardens. Randy’s young son ran up to join us. “Do you like living here?” one of our group asked him. “No,” he said defiantly. “I’d rather live in the city.”
But just at that moment, sitting in these idyllic surroundings, few of us would have agreed with him.
- Sunnyside Gardens is around 20 minutes’ drive from St Georges
- Visits are by appointment only. Sunsation Tours in St Georges can arrange tours for individuals or groups.