Makiku Gardens History
Mamiku Gardens, the name evokes images of exotic tropical flowers. And you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘Mamiku’ might be a creole word for garden, colourful or something like that. In fact it originates in the Colonial heritage of the estate. It’s the familiar name given, over 200 years ago, to Madame de Micoud.
The Estate, belonged to the Baron de Micoud, former Governor of Saint Lucia during the island’s last French period. When the British took over Saint Lucia for the final time, around 1796, a decree was issued, banning any Frenchman from owning land in Saint Lucia. Luckily for the Baron, his wife Marie-Anne Devaux, Madame de Micoud, was native-born French Creole. She kept the estate and Madame de Micoud, became Ma Micoud (silent ‘d’), Mamiku.
Since 1906, Mamiku has belonged to the Shingleton-Smith family who have run it as a working estate since then. In the late 1990’s, the family came together to follow their mother Veronica’s dream to create the peaceful oasis we now call Mamiku Gardens. A place where locals and visitors alike can relax and enjoy beautiful 12-acre gardens and forest walks, and pay respects to the spirits of those who toiled on and fought for the land.
Veronica Shingleton-Smith, who has appeared many times on BBC’s Gardener’s World, is renowned as the island’s top horticulturalist and landscaper, having created many a garden paradise around the Saint Lucia including at some of the island’s top resorts – Sugar Beach, Ladera, Body Holiday, to name a few.
What awaits you at Mamiku Gardens…
Mamiku presents you with winding shaded paths, lined with scattered trees and colourful flowers – a medley of indigenous and exotic that can only be found at Mamiku. As a fan on TripAdvisor says:
“Everyone who is interested in horticulture should visit these beautiful gardens. They are laid out for easy access and well labeled to identify all the trees and plants. Our guides were so helpful…” Go799420, Whitby, United Kingdom
What you’ll see in flower depends on the season, but you will always find beauty and tranquility. Rustic benches, centuries old stones, massive banyan trees and tiny orchids brought together to create Veronica’s signature ‘tamed jungle’. It feels so natural, but is inspiringly curated and lovingly tended.
“The gardens are beautiful and extremely peaceful. If you need to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, just come to the gardens and you’ll feel relaxed immediately. You’ll be surrounded by butterflies and hummingbirds. I had an extremely knowledgeable guide show me around the gardens. The tour was well paced and I could ask lots of questions…” ifster35, London, United Kingdom
Independent Self-Guided or Group Tour, Mamiku welcomes you
If you are an independent traveller, you are welcome to wander around on your own and a simple map-guide is available. But as many visitors have remarked, it’s worth hiring a guide to take you around as they can tell you so much more about the plants and history. In our experience, your guide also will add entertaining anecdotes and point out many gems that you might otherwise miss.
If you choose to just pop in on your own, when you arrive at Mamiku Gardens, you’ll see the Gate House – this is where you pay to enter, but if, as is sometimes the case, there’s no-one there, just go up to the Café/Brigand’s Bar and pay there.
For guided tours, book in advance to ensure a guide is available to take you on your chosen tour. Select from Bird Watching, Garden Lover’s Delight, Garden Lover’s Delight with Rum Tasting, all within Mamiku Gardens, or you can opt for a bigger adventure and take the Plantation Hike which starts and ends in the Garden, and as the name suggests, takes you out around the plantation.
Whatever your choice, you’ll know you’re in the right place as soon as you step past the Gate House: You’ll find yourself surrounded by a symphony of textures and colours, leaves of all shapes, attitudes and sizes. Infinite varieties of greens glow with filtered sunlight alongside flowers decked out in all manner of colours and dancing on the welcoming Atlantic breezes.
Walking up the gently inclined track, if you’ve secured your ticket at the gate, you can head off to the left up a short flight of steps into the Mystic Garden where a wonderful array of orchids surrounds you, ground-planted or hanging delicately from trees. Sit in the shade and enjoy butterflies and birds or wander on to the Secret Garden.
In the Secret Garden beds are filled with fragrant herbs, bees buzz in flowers and more butterflies and birds abound. You’ll see familiar culinary herbs and others less well-known. You’ll want to ask about these, they’re of great interest for their local medicinal and traditional uses.
A short stroll through a West Indian Bayleaf grove – forest bathing anyone? – takes you on to a grassy opening where you find the ruins of ‘Grandpa’s House’ where you can start to imagine life on the estate at the turn of the 19th – 20th Century.
Bayleaf, Pimenta racemosa, is an indigenous tree, completely unrelated to the Bay Leaf from the Mediterranean. On the short shady path, the fragrant leaves of the trees crush underfoot enveloping you in soothing lemon and spice aromas.
Turning 180°, the path leads you back to the Brigand’s Bar through Bougainvillea Walk. In the drier months, a riot of colourful bougainvillea ‘flowers’ awaits you along this path. At the bar you can grab a refreshing drink and one of Mamiku’s famous ‘toastie’ sandwiches before heading up Tamarind Hill.
If you’d like a bit more history, ask to see the collection of artefacts, tucked away in a little room, the Mini Museum, that feels like you’ve snuck into an old-time explorer’s secret collection.
As you gradually make your way to the archaeological dig at the site of Madame de Micoud’s Colonial era home, the path up Tamarind Hill gently inclines, surrounding you with huge umbrella leaves, peeling translucent bark, scented leaves, elegantly sculpted trunks, majestic trees and soft mosses.
You can read a brief history at the top and take a moment on the benches nearby, to enjoy a breath-taking view of the Atlantic and the East Coast of Saint Lucia. Then wend you way down again. Much of the downward path is along the ravine where the little Cassé stream runs. Huge rounded boulders, wild and planted flowers and banyan trees, make for a fairy-tale setting. Great photo opportunities here.
At the bottom, on your left, a quaint Victorian style garden, Veronica’s Garden, is tucked away. A perfect spot to relax, check the time on the sundial, enjoy the gentle sound of the stream and wait for birds to show as you decide whether to stay another few minutes in any of Mamiku Gardens’ many serene spots.
Mamiku Garden Events
The spacious facilities at Mamiku are perfect for many types of events: For instance, a corporate team-building day or a family reunion; a garden wedding or youth group day out learning about history or nature.
Contact the Manager to talk about what’s possible and create a memorable event!
- Mamiku Gardens open Monday to Sunday – 9am – 5pm
- Good Friday, Christmas Day & New Years Day
- credit cards accepted Free parking
- walks suitable for all levels
- Orchids & exotic plants
- Photographic opportunities abound!
- Light refreshment available
- Space available for events
Tours at Mamiku
Hear magical indigenous bird-songs e.g. Golden Oriole, endangered White-breasted Thrasher and Humming Birds whilst walking through beautiful gardens set in shady woodlands.
A half day tour to Mamiku Botanical Gardens – includes transport, guide, hot bakes and cocoa tea – a Lucian favorite.
Minimum 6 * Maximum 12
Requirements: Walking shoes.
Note: Early morning pick-up from your hotel – between 5.30 – 6.00 A.M.
Climbing to Rain Forest mountain ridge, down through Mango Grove to cool-river bathe. Ending with picnic lunch in Mamiku Gardens.
Full day tour to Mamiku Historic Plantation – Includes transport, guided hike, River Bathe (weather permitting) jelly coconuts and a picnic lunch.
Minimum 10* Maximum 20
Length of guided tour is 5 hours approximately (Hike 3 hours. River and picnic 2 hours) plus travel time.
Requirements: Good walking or hiking shoes, loose clothing, long trousers, plus swim wear if river bathing – also insect repellant and hat. A 1.5 liter bottle of water is supplied for hike.
Garden Lovers’ Delight
Atlantic Coast’s “Hidden Gem”! Rich in History, Orchids, Birds and Medicinal Herbs. Our guides speak perfect English and are informative, knowledgeable and have a great sense of humor.
A half-day tour to Mamiku Botanical Gardens.
Includes transport, guided tour of gardens, plus rum punch with local snacks.
You can also get this tour with rum!
Tour the Gardens. Hear tales of intriguing history and sample local rum. Receive our “Secret Recipe” and learn how to make it.
A half-day tour to Mamiku Botanical Gardens – Includes transport, guided tour of gardens, rum tasting and rum punch with local snacks.
Minimum 6 *
Length of guided tour is 2 hours approximately plus travel time.
Requirements: Walking shoes.
* All bookings must be made at least 3 days in advance of the Tour date.
If minimum tour numbers are not met, tour will be cancelled and you will be notified.
How to get there
From the North of the island – leaving Castries, head towards Bexon and on over the Barre de l’Isle. Continue on past Dennery and the tiny fishing village of Praslin. A very short way further, on a flat stretch of road, you’ll see the big colourful Mamiku sign across the road.
From the south – coming north out of Vieux Fort, go past Micoud and continue on past Mon Repos – there’s a gas station on the right- up a hill, down the other side and you’ll be at the Mamiku gap a little way further.