O’Neal Botanical Gardens
A short foot trail loops around the four-acre Joseph Reynold O’Neal Botanical Gardens (Botanic Station, 284/494-4557, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, $3 adults, $2 children under 10), an oasis of quiet in bustling Road Town. The gardens were opened in 1986 on part of what was once the island’s 60-acre agricultural station, the rest of which has been consumed by schools, roads, and commercial development.
Named for the founder and first chairman of the BVI National Parks Trust, the gardens are the place to come to get acquainted with the rich variety of tropical plants and animals that live in the BVI. The gardens include an orchid house, fern collection, and a garden of local medicinal herbs. You will also find a wide range of fruit trees, such as mango, passion fruit, and breadfruit. Look out as well for the gardens’ collection of palm trees, including the native tyre palm, traditionally used to make brooms.
Ask at the ticket booth for a printed walking guide to the gardens, which provides detailed information about many of the species you see. Look around Fishlock Hall, the one-room wooden building at the center of the gardens, for staff who can answer any other questions you may have.
The gardens are a popular venue for weddings. Call the BVI National Parks Trust (284/494-2069, www.bvinationalparkstrust.org) for more information.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition