At the end of John’s Path there are some traveller’s palms. The Latin name is Ravenala madagascariensis indicating the plant is originally from Madagascar. It’s not a true palm but rather belongs to the bird-of-paradise family, Strelitziaceae. Ravenala madagascariensis is the sole member of its genus. In Madagascar the Ruffed Lemur is one of the creatures that pollinates the Traveller’s Palm. It has been given the name “traveller’s palm” because the stems hold rainwater, so that weary travellers can quench their thirst by sticking something sharp into the stem. At Andromeda there’s no need to do this as the Hibiscus Café is close by.
Iris’ Walk is over gentler terrain and is indicated by red arrows. The most interesting plants are indicated by the letters A-Z, which correspond to items on the information sheet that people are given when they arrive. This self-guided tour will take about an hour depending on how many pictures are taken.
The finest Alpini plants at Andromeda are sent to the Chelsea Flower Show in London. In the Caribbean their brilliant blooms are used as cut flowers; the Alpini is a member of the Ginger family.
The Etlingera elatior plant has many names including Red Ginger Lily, Philippine Wax Flower, Indonesian Tall Ginger, and Porcelain Rose. At Andromeda it’s referred to as the Torch Ginger and its bright pink colour lights up the garden. This plant is used in many ethnic dishes in Sumatra and Malaysia.
Ixora Coccina, or the Jungle Geranium, is a flowering shrub of the Rubiaceae family and is a native of Sri Lanka and southern India. The specimens at Andromeda are around 5 feet in height, but they can almost double that height in the wild.
The Yellow Shrimp and Red Shrimp flowers bring a swathe of colour to the shady borders near the end of the walk. These shrubs are native to Central America and are sometimes called the lollipop plant or yellow candles, producing flowers from the spring to the autumn. They can attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
It’s good to finish with a plant that’s native to Barbados. The Barbados Gooseberry or Pereskia aculeata is a scrambling shrub in the family Cactaceae. Like other members of this genus, these plants have spiny non-succulent stems and large leaves. The flowers are cream-coloured and the yellow fruit are edible, containing many seeds. In Barbados the fruit are used in chutneys.
The best place for a rest on both trails is the peaceful lily pond. There are seats that provide relaxation and a viewpoint for watching the fish chasing each other under the water-lilies. A weeping willow, the only one on Barbados, hangs overhead making this a shady place for both fish and visitor.
The Hibiscus Café serves drinks and tasty snacks and makes an excellent spot for the visitor to contemplate all the wonderful flowers and well-tended plants that they’ve just seen in this stunning botanical garden high above Bathsheba and the Atlantic waves.