When my husband and I headed to Boston to board the Norwegian Dawn to the beautiful island of Bermuda we were very excited. The first item on our list of things to do while on the island was to visit the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Having kept an eye on the weather reports we knew that Hurricane Gonzalo could make landfall on Bermuda on Friday the 17th of October. We were not scheduled to get there until Sunday, the 19th, and ever the optimists, felt that we would still be able to dock in King’s Wharf. We even discussed going to the Botanical Garden to help with any clean-up that was needed after the storm.

The hurricane made a direct hit on Bermuda causing $200 million in damage and leaving 90% of the island without electricity. As such, the cruise ship would not be able to dock there. We were then redirected to Nassau, Bahamas and Great Stirrup Cay. Off we went to the ship’s library to look up information on the Bahamas. I was very happy to discover that there is a Botanical Garden in Nassau and that across the road from that is the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo. The day that we docked in Nassau we jumped on a city bus and headed for the Botanical Garden, ready to get some amazing pictures. Once again, it was not to be. There had been a big food festival on the grounds of the Botanical Garden over the weekend and it was closed so that they could clean up. Ok, a deep breath and then a walk across the street to the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo. It did not have an amazing array of flowers but there were several tropical varieties that were new to us.

Epiphytic orchids at the Ardastra gardens

Epiphytic orchids at the Ardastra gardens

Epiphytic Orchids

Epiphytic Orchids

It was very interesting to see the orchids that were growing on the sides of the trees. Known as an epiphyte, these orchids are not parasitic to their host plant. Their roots are used primarily for support and for attachment to the host plant. As autotrophs, they derive their nutrients and moisture from the air, the rain, and the debris that collects around their base. They use available sunlight for the process of photosynthesis. In turn, they provide a habitat for animals, fungi, and bacteria. Epiphytes can also create a cooler and moister environment in the host plant canopy to the benefit of the host plant. Many other familiar plants also in the epiphytic category include mosses, ferns, lichens, algae, cacti, and bromeliads.

Ferns growing in the limestone at Fort Fincastle

Ferns growing in the limestone at Fort Fincastle

Plants growing in the limestone

Plants growing in the limestone

And while these species of ferns and plants are not epiphytic, we found them growing in the cracks in the limestone walls of Fort Fincastle, Nassau. We also saw many plants that had adapted themselves to grow in the sandy, rocky areas of the beaches. These plants can greatly reduce the damage that can be caused by wind or water erosion.

Great Stirrip Cay

Great Stirrip Cay

Although we didn’t get to visit our first or second choices, we still saw some beautiful and interesting things. And we even got to see the trained marching flamingos at the Ardastra Zoo!

The marching flamingos!

The marching flamingos!

Susan Pelton