Garden of the Sleeping Giant: Perry Mason, orchids, and an island in Fiji

After Perry Mason, Raymond Burr's next role was orchid-grower.

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As reward for a job well-done, one could do worse than a secluded Fiji island. When Perry Mason finished its initial broadcast run on CBS, series star Raymond Burr found himself with some extra time (and money) on his hands. In 1966, Reuters reported that Burr was the new owner and inhabitant of Naitauba, an island in eastern Fiji, approximately 150 miles north of Suba.   

The actor paid for 4,015 acres of land, initially utilizing the space to raise cattle and harvest "copra," the dried white flesh from which coconut oil is extracted. While these commercial interests doubtlessly helped pay off the property's cost, an even more interesting use is still open for visit today.

Nestled within the "mountainous, coral-reef-encircled island" is the Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The garden is home to over 3,000 varieties of orchid. Some are native to the Fijian island, while others were hybridized by Burr himself. In addition to his career as actor of stage and screen, Burr was also a passionate horticulturalist, carefully tending to his plants until a medical condition forced him to leave in 1983. In the interim, Burr's company, Sea God Nurseries was responsible for introducing over 1,500 varieties of orchid to the worldwide catalog. Burr even named one genotype after his Perry Mason co-star, birthing the "Barbara Hale orchid." 

Burr would go on to found and fund the American Fijian Foundation, tasked with backing academic research and devloping a dictionary for the islands' native language.

In addition to re-runs of Perry Mason and Ironside, Raymond Burr's legacy lives on through his garden, which is now also a tourist attraction that anyone can visit. The official Garden of the Sleeping Giant website boasts 20 hectares and 2,000 kinds of orchid. 

"The exquisite beauty of the garden is unsurpassed by most, housing one of the world’s largest orchid collections plus beautiful cultivated greenery and enchanting lily ponds, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant is not to be missed. Take a picnic and enjoy the peace and serenity of some of the most stunning gardens on earth."

Visitors are welcome from 9am to 5pm, seven days a week for an entrance fee of just $25.

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17 Comments

LoveMETV22 14 months ago
" Raymond Burr's legacy lives on through his garden, which is now also a tourist attraction that anyone can visit."

"Visitors are welcome from 9am to 5pm, seven days a week for an entrance fee of just $25."
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Bucket List Add: (To do list)
1 .Research travel itinerary for trip to Fiji.
2. Convert US Currency to Fijian Dollar's ( 25 USD = 55.6385 FJD).
3. Travel to Fiji.
4. Pack a Picnic Lunch.
5. Visit "Garden of the Sleeping Giant."
--------------------------------------
Sounds pretty easy.
LoveMETV22 14 months ago
Too bad Burr's Orchid venture didn't start earlier. He could have helped Wally out on
LITB " Wally's Orchid" S3.E27. Apr 2, 1960
CaptainDunsel 14 months ago
With regard to his interest in orchids, it makes me wonder what Burr might have done if he had taken on the role of "Nero Wolfe'.
Who would have made a good Archie to mid/late 70s Burr version of the genius detective?
MrsPhilHarris 14 months ago
I love that he named an orchid Barbara Hale.
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 14 months ago
So do I. That was pretty cool. ☺️
Mblack 14 months ago
Wasn't "Adventures of the Seaspray" set in or around Fiji?
MrsPhilHarris Mblack 14 months ago
I know it was set in the South Pacific, and I’m sure Fiji was one of the locals.
Mblack MrsPhilHarris 14 months ago
I'm glad someone remembered the show
MrsPhilHarris Mblack 14 months ago
To be honest I had forgotten all about it, until last year when MeTV did a story or someone brought up the show.
Mblack MrsPhilHarris 14 months ago
I probably brought it upbefore. Iremember the concept, but not much detail. I thought it was Magic Boomerang
Pacificsun 14 months ago
Nice story and interesting article!
Would've been nice to have a picture.
So, one is included here.

Andybandit 14 months ago
I really enjoyed when PMTTM was on Sunday nights. But I like AITF on Sundays now.
kathleenreick 14 months ago
I want to go see this Island in Figi!! Must be breath taking.
Pacificsun kathleenreick 14 months ago
There are tons of pictures, and accommodation suggestions online. The picture above (Pacificsun) is just one.
MaryMitch kathleenreick 14 months ago
I've been to Fiji a couple times; the last time was in the 90s. The Fijians were very friendly and mostly untouched by the "modern" culture (we had to show them what a "high five" is), but young people were starting to watch television. "Friends" was pretty popular and anorexia was becoming an issue with the young women.
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