Earlier this year Jim Valentine opened his Flora Tropica Gardens just 3 k down the road from Daku and since then we’ve sent a lot of our guests to visit them. The gardens have a magnificent display of flora with an emphasis on palms – Jim has collected over 300 varieties from all over the world. The gardens are a jewel in Savusavu’s collection of places to visit, and they could hold their own anywhere in the world.
The palm collection includes sugar palms from South East Asia, a buriti from the Amazon, a black wanga palm from Sulawesi, peach palms from Brazil, a Marquesas palm, a snakeskin fishtail palm from Vanuatu, a foxy lady – a cross with an Australian palm and a Fijian palm, a Bismarck palm from Madagascar and the Blessed Palm from Madagascar which was discovered as recently as 2007.Jim takes a tour around
Jim has lived in Savusavu for over 20 years, developing his plant nursery and landscaping business. The property is spread over 5 acres. The impetus behind opening the gardens for tours came from his wife Marijani who has effectively turned her artistic design talents to making the gardens what they are.
A solid timber walkway runs through the gardens, starting off at a tranquil lily pond at the bottom of the hill and then winding up through the plant beds. Apart from the palms, he has a variety of other plants including40 types of tropical fruit trees, a baobab tree, many types of heliconia, varieties of ginger, scented plants, many bougainvilleas and a traveler palm which is actually not a palm but related to the bird of paradise.
At the top there’s a sweeping view over the hills. Jim walks his guest round, describing the plants and displaying a considerable depth of knowledge during the 2 hours (approximately) it takes.
The gardens are open daily Monday – Friday.The timber walkway running through the gardens
There’s a regular tour at 10.00am (F$20) and you can make an appointment for a different time if it suits you (F$30). Jim asks people to let him know they are coming for the morning tour “so I can at least make sure I have a clean t-shirt” he says – so give him a call on +679 850 591 or mobile +679 921 4600.
One of the palms