The decision to open two 400-year-old gardens in Valletta to the public for the first time was well-intentioned and drew a good response from the public.

That of St Catherine’s monastery in the lower part of Republic Street is very interesting. Actually, it is the internal yard of this majestic building, with cloistered passages round the quadrangle and utility rooms beyond, containing gardening implements and kitchen utensils from past times.

The garden itself is well kept, with various decorative trees and shrubs, and a large variety of potted plants which show the care and attention of those who tend them.

Of particular interest was the crypt, where the nuns are buried in plain, stone-built tombs along the walls, a fitting resting place for those who spent their entire lives within the walls of this hallowed place.

The garden of the Archbishop’s Palace was a disappointment. Reached down a steep flight of stairs at the back of the building, this is just a moderate patch of soil with a few orange trees in it.

The trees themselves are mature, tall and healthy, but the garden itself seemed neglected. Oranges had not been picked and, apart from the few which are still in the trees, the others have fallen and are strewn all over the soil beneath the trees, left there to rot and presumably attract all sorts of insects.

It would have taken such little effort to present this place to the public in a better condition.

I came away feeling that the idea to open this garden to the public in its present state was ill-advised.

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