Once upon a time, 3000 years ago, a man awoke from the night’s rest upon the lofty volcano top, on an island in the middle of the north-south archipelago. It was dawn on a clear, warm summer’s day, and the breeze was warm. As the sun rose higher he rubbed his eyes and sleepily looked out east across the calm sea. Turning to the woman beside him he said, “I think I see something over there below the sun. Do you see it too?” She looked for a minute. “Yes, it looks like another island; but I never noticed it before, and we have never lived there. Strange and wonderful, as our people have been around here for many generations. I wonder what it’s like?”

Some days later, a calm summer’s night coincided with a waxing moon. As the near-full evening moon began to rise, and just as dusk began to descend, a canoe rode the rising tide. Four men, in shifts of 2 at a time, paddled out into the ‘east’, working all night, navigating by the moonlight, the stars, and later the sun as it rose. Even later the direction of the light wind and the swells, because the sun was too high. The canoe reached its destination the following evening as the moon was peaking.

They pulled it up onto a beautiful wide, white sandy beach, and slept on the warm sand beside the turtle tracks and the pink butterfly sea shells.

The canoe and its 4 travelers had reached an island without a name.

The tone of the forest is set by its trees. Human scale and ego are diminished by the sheer majesty of tall, wild growing royal cabbage palms towering to a height of 100+ feet (30+m). As one descends into the shade and peace of the bird-filled forest, a sense of peace sets in. The quiet and the cool allow one’s mind to release its controlling grasp upon the self, allowing one to just ‘be’ within the moment. No need to dominate a complicated and fast paced world full of business and work. Do I need to hold onto my stress here in a glorious, different place; or can I put these things away? The peace of nature has a way of placing our troubles into perspective. After these ‘perspective moments’ we find the psyche adjusted and downsized, relaxed and sensing the feeling of the required holiday rejuvenation. At last…

As a personal testimony, I can say that Flower Forest has allowed me to become free to recognise my true place in the world- but I must humbly confess that it is not a starring role.  My heart and soul, however, are given acres of space, and so all the pressure of home life, the job, those constant stresses; they fall away. The gift the Forest is that of peace and tranquillity. It isn’t a commodity that can be purchased, but it is one we all need to have. Invest your time in it, you won’t be sorry.

Pictures of your loved ones, small  figures (or large) amongst the trees and pathways, views of the wind-blown east coast from the top of the hills behind them- these can be captured and shared. And the flowers. You’ll probably see a few you haven’t before. But most especially, the inner peace, gift of the Barbados Flower Forest, that is an essence for we visitors to capture and to try to remember to take away. Oh, that magic feeling!

The Flower Forest is in its 9th year of our custodianship, having been founded 30 years ago, and laid out by Kew trained horticulturalist Richard Coghlan.

Full of mature, towering palms, golden apples, plums and African tulips the winding branching pathways are planted with beautiful flowers and wild all kinds of everything. This year there are more flowers and garden than ever.  Hybrid varieties of torch (carefully grown from tiny seeds) are now mature in their 3rd and 4th years and are showing nicely.

At the moment the torch gingers (Etlingera) and the honey combs (Zingiber) are showing the finest mix anywhere in Barbados; both of which are commonly used as imported tropicals in temperate city flower shops. One can see how expensive-to-die-for flowers grow under cultivation in an awesome tree-filled forest.

Don’t expect the type of pristine quality you’ll find in shops…the Flower Forest doesn’t eradicate all pests and predators, nor does it spray huge quantities of pesticides. The flowers you will see are in coexistence with the fauna (all harmless to humans) in the garden. Today the jade vine is still putting out its last flowers, the third round for the year.

Bring your camera and take some flower images home to share with your friends!