|Ġnien tal-Kand, Żejtun|
On becoming Governor of Malta, Sir Alexander Ball felt that the Maltese Islands needed some more greenery and thus set about planting trees wherever possible. Another method of adding greenery was through the opening of gardens, such as the Mall gardens in Floriana, which were previously inaccessible to the local community.
Ball also created new gardens which were to be managed by the Luogotenente di Casale who also served as police officer, magistrate and general liason between the local population and the administrators of the Islands. A number of these gardens were constructed in various localities around Malta as a perk for the Luogotenente and at the same time with the aim of using the gardens as experimental areas for agricultural and horticulture purposes.
Ball wanted to avoid a repeat of the mistakes the French made and thus wanted to have a buffer between the locals and the administration. The Luogotenente would facilitate the implementation of legislation by informing the locals in their own language rather than in the heavy handed manner of the French and the Knights before them. Thus the gardens (and associated property in some cases) was the perk to entice the most learned individual in the respective localities. Of particular note is that the introduction of the potato in the Islands came about following experiments in these gardens to see whether this crop would give a larger yield than cotton (which was the main crop grown till that time). Other experiments included Silk (grown on mulberry trees), apiaries, pigeon and sparrow lofts and others. All the gardens were planted with trees, the most common of which were citrus.
Soon after Ball's death, the practise of the Luogotenente and the gardens was discontinued as it was felt that they were an unnecessary expense which was providing cause for corruption with minimal or no return for the central Government of the time.
A number of these gardens still survive in a number of localities although some have unfortunately since been destroyed. A few are also open to the general public as public gardens while others are leased out to third parties for use as gardens for their properties or as arable spaces.
The surviving gardens are found in the following localities:
Inaccessible: Attard (currently in Lija), Balzan (currently in B'kara), Birkirkara (currently in Attard), Gharghur, Gudja, Mosta, Siggiewi; Zebbug
Open to public: Zejtun, Qrendi, Safi;
Partially surviving: Ghaxaq, Zabbar;
Destroyed: Lija, Luqa, Naxxar, Qormi, Zurrieq
The locations of the surviving gardens can be found here