The Buskett Gardens is the only semi-natural forestland with a total area of 47 hectares and one of the few green zones in Malta. It is famous among local residents and tourists as a lovely recreation park and a perfect place for picnics. The gardens are protected by the Maltese Government, being an ecological site for saving the endemic and rare flora and fauna.
The Buskett Gardens were planted by the Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Order of Saint John, in mid-1500s. The site name originates from the Italian word Boschetto, meaning “a small wood”. Initially, the gardens were used as a hunting ground and then were supplemented by Verdala Palace, which became a summer residence of the Grand Master. In 2000 the Buskett Gardens were included into the list of sites falling under Special Area of Conservation and Special Protected Area acts.
The gardens are called “the lungs of Malta” since they happen to be one of the few woodlands in this country. The site is located in a picturesque valley, part of which is occupied by citrus plantations, so in the harvest time visitors can walk in the shade of orange and lemon groves and pick fruit right off the trees. Along the vineyards and olive wood there are pathways winding through the landscaped sites, but visitors are allowed to walk and have picnics right in the terraced fields or under multiple oaks, carobs, white poplars, ashes, elms and Aleppo pines. From autumn to spring visitors can enjoy wild flowers, local garigue and natural springs, while taking long walks through the gardens to Verdala Palace that crowns the top of the hill.
Besides, the Buskett Gardens are home to many birds, including the ones coming here during their seasonal migration. In the waterways, painted frog can be observed, which is famous for being the only endemic subspecies amphibian of the Maltese islands. With a bit of luck, visitors can watch Algerian hedgehogs and chameleons in their natural habitat.
On June 29 the gardens traditionally attract hundreds of locals and tourists for celebration of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. The night before the feast visitors have picnics with traditional dishes to the accompaniment of folk music and in the morning an annual agricultural show is held there.