AHS News & Blog

Exploring Under the Caribbean Sun with the AHS

From January 28-February 5, 2024, a group of enthusiastic AHS travelers escaped the winter chill and headed to sunnier climes in the Caribbean. Accompanied by AHS Hosts Holly and Osamu Shimizu, the AHS group explored several idyllic islands in the Caribbean’s Antilles archipelago. AHS travel programs feature meticulously curated horticultural experiences to showcase exceptional gardens and nature preserves. AHS traveler Duane Partain was inspired to share the account below of the special experience the AHS group enjoyed during their visit to Hunte’s Garden in Grenada.

If you’d like to learn about future Travel Study experiences, visit www.ahsgardening.org/travel or contact Mercedes Bryant at travel@ahsgardening.org


By Duane Partain     
Photos: Jane Scheidecker                   

Hunte’s Gardens is described as “The most enchanting place on earth,” and a February 4, American Horticultural Society tour set out to discover the truth of that boast.

In and around a collapsed cave (a sinkhole) on 2.5 acres of an old sugar plantation site, Anthony Hunte (and a few helpers) have spent 30 years planning, planting, growing, and nurturing a truly stunning garden creation.  A collection of plants, flowers, fruits, pottery, sculpture, and whimsy has been gathered together to form Anthony’s gardens.  He will invite you to meander, look, muse, enjoy, and discover all you can while you are there.

Now 82 years young, the gregarious, sprightly host invites every visitor to enjoy his garden paradise.  He will play your favorite music, answer all questions, and regale you with the history of the island of Barbados and in particular—his gardens.

The paths are made of bricks that once provided ballast on English ships bringing materials to the islands.  Artifacts from sugar cane production and sculptures by local artisans are layered in among tropical, exotic, unusual, colorful plants.  It almost overwhelms the senses with so much to see, touch, and inhale.

A canopy of palms shades the layers of plants, and each specimen gets just the right amount of water, sun, and air to be its showy best.  There aren’t enough adjectives to describe what you see next to you, above you, below you, and around you.  Huge flowers, tropical fruits, unusual colors, shapes, and combinations in hundreds of shades of green foliage everywhere.

Inclines, sidehills, hollows, and gentle switchback paths help make every bench and seat a private spot you just happened upon.  The layout is as magical as it is easy to traverse.  Each mini-oasis seems as if it was made just for you.

Anthony makes sure all environmental laws, rules, and quarantines are followed for new garden arrivals.  His rigor in all the many aspects of planting,care, and maintenance is proof of the passion he has for his garden creation.  The setting is so lush, so imaginative, you almost expect a hobbit or elf or Ewok to appear.  You just know that dinosaurs lived in places just like this.  Anthony will tell you none of those creatures live in his gardens—just birds, insects, monkeys, and visitors.

After wandering in his gardens, Anthony just might offer you a cold rum punch, more conversation, and a rest in his 100+ year-old home surrounded by ferns, bushes, and flowers.  The house blends in so well, it has become a part of the whole garden experience.

The lushness, the variety, the garden layers, the sheer amount of colorful flowers in Hunte’s Garden prompted AHS lecturer, tour host, and botanical expert, Holly Shimizu, to confess, “There are plants here I’ve never seen before,” and pronounce, “This is the best tropical garden I have ever seen!”  High praise indeed toward the end of a multi-island tour of several  gorgeous gardens.

There is more information about the garden on several websites- https://www.huntesgardens-barbados.com/   The gushing, wondering, enthusiastic, effusive comments on Tripadvisor will add to your desire to experience the beauty of Hunte’s Gardens.  The creator of it all, Anthony Hunte, welcomes you as the inveterate gardener, historian, raconteur, and consummate host and gentleman he is.  He is the gem of the Gardens.

It was the capstone of another fabulous AHS tour—inspirational, interesting, educational, and yes—enchanting!