Fiji # 8 : “Garden of the Sleeping Giant” Part 2

I left you wandering in the beautiful orchid gardens of the sleeping giant just off the road between Nadi and Lautoka. But there is much more to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant than just orchids – much more. It’s a tranquil place to walk on a hot day. Unfortunately we did not see it all, partly because of time constraints – we had to get back to the ship for our next island hopping adventure – and partly because cyclone Evan had badly damaged the forest. Much of it was closed to the public for the time being. I’m sure it will be open again soon for those who wish to walk through the forest to the top of the hill for the fine views that I am promised are there.

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The path we were able to walk was a board walk that led us down into a shady gully

where part of the jungle-like undergrowth had been cleared

to make a welcoming grassy patch.

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Small gardens of  tropical ground cover plants edge some of the ‘lawn’ area.

This part of the gardens is sometimes used for weddings.

A wedding ‘chapel’ is on the hill above here.

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In the forest, some of the older trees were just magnificent,

held into the ground with formidable roots.

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At the base of the gully is a lush lily pond.

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And where there’s a lily pond, there are usually lilies!

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I love the structure of a lily.  One of nature’s beautiful sculptures.

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Several beautiful red dragonflies made use of the lily leaf water pools.

Their gauzy wings are another delight of nature.

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Water iris are another delight found beside this pool.

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Nearby, there were tropical gingers in abundance.

I’ll leave you to enjoy them as we did.

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Too soon it was time to wend our way back up the board walk towards the entrance.

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On the way there was time to look back at the hills – and enjoy more orchids.

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Close to the entrance to the gardens is a delightful shaded ‘fern house’.

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Palms.  Again, one of nature’s masterpieces of sculpture.

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A small water ‘rill’ had been diverted through the fern house.

The sound of gently running water gave authenticity to the fern forest feeling.

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In this area, dashes of red and gold lifted the predominant greens.

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Shape and texture were also there to be enjoyed –

 if you took more than a cursory look.

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Just outside the fern house, a few bananas were in flower.

Aren’t they superb?  Well worth a close look.

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The entrance area is furnished with inviting, comfortable cane lounges.

Welcomed back with a cool drink, this is the place to rest awhile.

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Taxis arrived, and it was time to leave this delightful garden.

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It was time to drive back to Lautoka.

We were about to embark on another island hopping adventure.

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With some new passengers on board , we set sail for the Mamanuca Islands.

Arriving at a small coral cay,  we stopped to enjoy the late afternoon.

An hour of snorkelling was a great way to end  the day.

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On the horizon, though, clouds began to gather.

This is the tropics and afternoon storms are very frequent – and to be expected.

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Now join us as we sail through the warm tropical waters.

Ahead of us, an interesting three days as we explore the small archipelago of the Mamanuca Islands.

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With the Fijian flag flying in the breeze,

we are on board Captain Cook Fiji’s exploration ship, the MV ‘Reef Endeavour’.

Why not join her sometime for your own Fiji adventure!

Jennie and David

All photography ©  JT and DY of jtdytravels

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Fiji # 7 : Orchids of the Garden of the Sleeping Giant

The Orchid Garden of the Sleeping Giant was a complete contrast from the experiences we had been enjoying on our island hopping journey on ‘MV Reef Endeavour’.  Here, in a plantation of some 20 hectares, over 2,000 orchids are grown. Not all were on display, because the garden was still recovering from the cyclone, but there were enough to make for a magical walk through a lush green forest at the foot of the mountain of the Sleeping Giant.

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While predominately a show place for orchids, these gardens also contain many native Fijian plants,

as well as plants from other tropical areas.

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A welcome site at the garden entrance is this stunning Bismarckia Palm, endemic to Madagascar.

It really enjoys the hot wet summers and less wet winters of Fiji.

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The gardens were begun in the 1970’s by the late Canadian born actor, Raymond Burr, famous for his acting personas of Ironside and Perry Mason.  For Burr, Fiji was his second home, away from the Hollywood spotlight.  Apart from enjoying time on his secluded ‘hideaway’ on a small Fijian island, Burr and his partner, Robert Benevides, bought this plantation to house their private collection of orchids.

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Burr hybridised an estimated 1,500 varieties of orchids before he left Fiji in 1983.

Fortunately for visitors to Fiji, this garden has not only been maintained

but has been developed into one of the major orchid gardens of the world.

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The paths through this botanic wonderland enter through a mesh-covered walkway.

It’s lined with cultivated orchids growing in pots perched on rock walls.

They are surrounded by perennial epiphytes and other plants such as low growing ferns and gingers.

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While not all of the orchids were on show, there were indeed many to enjoy.

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They come in an amazing variety of colours and shapes and sizes – all beautiful.

 I’ll add a selection so that you can wander along this path with us.

We hope that you enjoy them as we did.

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The orchids also had a  large ‘supporting cast’ of delightful plants bedded amongst the rocks.

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The bright red flowers of Anthurium added a dash of colour amongst the greenery of ferns.

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Bromeliads were well represented too.

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Butterflies added to the delightful experience of wandering in this orchid rockery.

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But the real stars of this garden were the orchids. And there many more still to discover.

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Occasionally something unusual like this wasp takes the attention away from the orchids.

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After a leisurely wander through the orchid rockery, the path came to the top of a rise with an open vista towards the hills. Here there’s a delightful feeling of wildness, with the forested foothills of the Nausori Highlands in the distance. It’s these hills that give the garden its unusual name, as the corrugated ridge above the gardens is said to resemble the body of a sleeping giant.

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And from here, a boardwalk leads down into the cooler shade of the valley.

And we’ll explore that part of the gardens in the next episode.

Jennie

All Photography ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels

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