Palm Garden for Botanic Park

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is to soon be a showcase for palms from all around the world.

Work has just started on the palm garden, which is to be across the path from the lake, explained the park’s General Manager Andrew Guthrie.

He said that over the years at the park they have collected lots of different species of palm trees in anticipation of starting a palm garden.

That concept is now to become a reality.

‘By the end of this year it should be well far along,’ he said.

The palm garden will show a large diversity of palms from around the world. Some of these will include palms from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, South and Central America and Florida.

Examples of some of the palms that will be at the park include: the Buccaneer Palm (Dominican Republic), the Zombie Palm (Haiti) and the Variegated Christmas Palm (Vanuatu).

The area, which already is full of native palms, will intersperse these (Silver Thatch, Bull Thatch and Cuban Royal Palms) with the other varieties from around the world, in what is to be a very natural setting, explained Mr. Guthrie.

Trees that are native will stay. Logwood trees have been removed from the area, however. This is not native and acts like a noxious weed, said Mr. Guthrie.

Already the Botanic Park has over 150 different types of palm trees in its nursery. While there are over 3,500 species worldwide, Mr. Guthrie points out that not all of these could be grown in the park, even if space allowed.

‘Some of these trees need a high altitude in which to grow, some need much more rain than we get here and some don’t like alkaline soil, which we have,’ Mr. Guthrie explained.

Also planned to come on stream at the Botanic Park eventually are: children’s educational garden, orchid garden, cactus and succulents garden, biblical garden and a bird watching tower.

Meanwhile, work has been ongoing at the Heritage Gardens and Rankin House, located in the Botanic Park.

At the house, an old style Caymanian structure, the porch columns and fretwork have been replaced and the house has been repainted. The roof is being replaced.

Mr. Tennyson Bodden, old-time craftsman, was on site at the grounds (traditionally where crops were grown) building a hut (this was area where a worker took shade from the sun).

Mr. Tennyson also re-did the wattling on the cookhouse and re-thatched the roof.

The chicken coop has also been repaired and the medicinal garden is to be worked on in the next few months.

A trampway between the house and the cook-room is also to be constructed.

Now nearly a year re-opened since Hurricane Ivan, the Botanic Park has done a good winter season, said Mr. Guthrie, but numbers of visitors are not quite up to what they were pre-Ivan.

A tour company is hoping to start bringing cruise visitors out to the Botanic Park in June, as one of a few stops such as Pedro St. James Castle and other attractions.

‘We definitely want more visitorship,’ said Mr. Guthrie. ‘The more revenue we earn the more we can do out here for those visiting,’ he said.

Since the hurricane sales have shot up at the nursery, however. ‘People wanted to buy plants a week after the hurricane,’ Mr. Guthrie commented.

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