Anthony is well aware of his deep-rooted Barbadian history and this knowledge has greatly deepened his love for the land. As a boy, Anthony was raised on the Balls Plantation in Christ Church at a time when Barbados dominated the sugar industry. Agriculture, therefore, became a pervasive part of his life. Both his paternal and maternal grandfather worked in the industry while his father managed the plantation where the family resided.
His grandmother was even more hands-on in her work and through his quality time with her, Anthony developed a love for the diverse flowers, fruits and plants which the Barbadian soil produced. “Every day I used to walk to my grandmother in Belmont Road for lunch and my grandmother was the one that got me involved in gardening, big time. As a boy, I used to go down and spend time with her and she taught me how to sift coal dust, collect cow cakes and mix up and do all the gardening, and I used to grow plants for her church fair at James Street Methodist Church and help her decorate the church. That is where my interest in horticulture started – Abbeville, Belmont Road.”
Located in the heart of St. Joseph, the lush, vibrant garden we see today was once a simple gully, approximately 150 feet deep and 500 feet wide. Anthony always had a vision for the Castle Grant property. “I’ve always wanted to show the best garden in the West Indies. The sinkhole in which I created the garden is millions of years old and had the most wonderful selection of royal palms. I added other varieties of palms to create a cathedral with a very very high canopy."
On entering the garden, the melodic sounds of classical music are heard, creating the perfect atmosphere for a relaxing walk through serene paths and amongst thriving shrubs, palms and blossoms. Hummingbirds quickly dart overhead from flower to flower while a few Green Monkeys peer curiously between the leaves of the thick vegetation. Lofty palms allow just the right amount of sunlight to draw attention to the brilliant foliage which lays below. Quaint benches and tables quietly invite visitors to stay awhile, so it may be a good idea to walk with a light lunch.
Anthony’s passion for history and nature are beautifully intertwined at the Garden. Castle Grant, where the Garden is located, is a former sugar plantation and this is highlighted through the architectural designs which have been purposefully and conscientiously preserved. “I converted the old stables into a living area,” Hunte said. “It has a 1934 grand piano that is kept tuned for visitors to play. The furniture, some of it hundreds of years old, comes from old plantation houses in the area.” For a more modern twist, the Garden’s gates once belonged to the luxury resort, Sandy Lane. A few years ago when the resort was remodelling, Anthony jumped at the chance to enhance his property, and got them for just $700 (Bds)- a steal of a deal!
A Visitor’s Delight
The enchantment of Hunte’s Gardens has been experienced by visitors from all around the world and has become a major attraction both in Barbados and neighbouring islands. “This garden is now not only the number one garden in Barbados but it is also rated as the number one garden in the entire Caribbean by TripAdvisor,” Hunte said.
Travel Blogger, Michael Wright, who has been recording his travels around the world for over seven years, was blown away not only by the resplendence of the garden but even more so by the hospitality shown by Anthony. “He might just be the nicest guy you will ever meet. He welcomes you as if an old friend and will gladly let you into his house to sit and chat on his verandah while overlooking the Garden.” Michael continued, “He obviously loves his Gardens and is proud of it, as he should be...He even asked us what music we wanted over the PA system to walk around too!”
Kailash Maharaj, who wrote in the Winter 2019/2020 issue of City Style and Living made note of the carefully crafted artistic design of the Garden. She noted, “It is clear that Hunte has the innate aesthetic of an artist”.
The Creation of a Legacy
With years of effort and labour invested into the Garden, Anthony has high hopes for its future. As with so many other aspects of nature, he hopes that the flora and fauna of this majestic hideaway remain intact for generations to come. He once shared, “My garden has been my biggest challenge and I hope it will go on after I am long dead because I took a really high rainfall area with a piece of land that was worth absolutely nothing and created a garden in it,” he said.
With over 4000 reviews on Trip Advisor rating the Garden as either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent, it is safe to say that Anthony Hunte has done a superb job with the transformation of what was once a simple gully but now today stands as one as the most sought after visitor locations in the Caribbean. One visit to Hunte’s Gardens is not enough. Repeat visitors continue to be amazed that upon each visit, they notice a new floral arrangement or Mr. Hunte himself is at work in the Garden pruning, tidying or meticulously adding to his work. For him, the admiration he receives and the smiles on people’s faces is the reward for his labour. As he puts it, “I just love people.”
From a young Barbadian boy learning the intricacies and joys of agriculture to a world-class and beloved horticulturist, Anthony Hunte’s love for nature and beauty have forever transformed the landscape of St. Joseph and Barbados.
Awards & Achievements
- Anthony has received the Barbados Centennial Honour for outstanding contribution to horticulture.
- In 1966, Anthony Hunte was one of the head arrangers in the creation of an Independence flower show as part of the celebrations of Barbados’ newly independent state.
‘Suitcase Stories’ by Michael Wright
A Virtual Tour of Hunte’s Gardens
An afternoon at Hunte’s Gardens and a chat with Anthony Hunte