Tucked away in the lush grounds of Estate St. George in Frederiksted is a hidden attraction that many visitors to St. Croix miss out on. St. George Village Botanical Gardens (SGVBG) is a former 19th-century sugar cane plantation that spans 16 acres among building and ruins. Established in 1972, the garden’s botanical collection has over 1,000 native and exotic species and varieties, including a medicinal herb garden, an orchid house, a rainforest trail, a fruit orchard, a cactus garden, a fern garden, a seashell museum and so much more.

A non-profit organization, SGVBG is dedicated to conservation and preservation of both the historical and living collections on its grounds. Their overall mission is to conserve the native plant species of St. Croix and the threatened species of other Caribbean islands suited to local environmental conditions.

Guests can take a self-guided tour of the grounds, which also overlaps an Amerindian settlement which dates back to 100 A.D. Stroll along shaded pathways and take in the mesmerizing sights of the grounds that include large kapok, mahogany and turpentine trees, tropical fruit trees, a myriad of colorful flowers and lush ferns. The restored buildings and preserved ruins on the grounds transport you back in time to the 18th and 19th century. Explore the sugar and rum factory ruins, the overseer’s house, the blacksmith shop and the worker’s family quarters. Each of these spaces have been reimagined to highlight various parts of the garden. For example, the Manager’s House is home to their Herbarium collection of over 5,000 dried and pressed plant specimens. These represent approximately 80% of the plant species known to be growing in the U.S. Virgin Islands and are critical for research and historical purposes. The property is listed in the National Registry of Historic Sites twice – for the Amerindian archaeological site and the Danish colonial sugarcane plantation village.

St. George Village Botanical Gardens is located at 127 Estate St. George in Frederiksted and open seven days a week from 9am to 3pm. Entry is $8 per adults ages 13-59, $1 for children under the age of 12 and $6 for seniors (60+) and USVI residents (photo ID required for proof). For more information, visit their website at https://sgvbg.org.

Article written by Anquanette Gaspard (agaspard@cruzanfoodie.com) for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty

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