When Queen Elizabeth II opened Grand Cayman’s Botanic Park in 1994, only the Woodland Trail was complete, but new gardens and areas have been opening up ever since.

This week saw the park break ground on a new Children’s Garden. “The garden is a place for children to play and learn,” said John Lawrus, the park’s general manager.

The Children’s Garden will feature an education area, open play area with a tree house and a grow zone. A environmental zone with mini ecosystems will also be a part of the garden.

“The Children’s Garden will be a magical place … making a science book come to life – climb, listen, touch, build … and will inspire the minds of children of all ages,” said architect John Doak.

Some features of the park will include an open grass lawn area, raised planting beds and boxes for demonstrations where children can get their hands dirty, mini ecosystems, water features, misting areas, water pumps, solar and windmill energy generation, desalination, a maze, amphitheater, a rope bridge, and wattle fences.

“What an amazing place this is going to be,” Mr. Doak said.

Thousands of schoolchildren, locals and visitors visit the park every year to learn about flora and fauna and also to get some insight into Cayman’s cultural heritage.

Cayman Garden Club president Ora Hollebon said the club came on board the Children’s Garden project because it wanted to encourage more young people to become interested in the Garden Club and planting.

“If you look at all the major parks around the world, they all have a major feature for children,” she said.

“So far, we have collected over $10,000 specifically for the children’s park; this was gained from plants sales and solicitation of our Garden Club members,” Mrs. Hollebon added.

Secretary Janet Morse said members have been working hard on the project since its inception. “We are now looking forward to taking part in its construction,” she said.

Elizabeth Bowen of Greenlight Re said the groundbreaking ceremony indicates the project is on its way to fruition.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, right, speaks about the many features of the Children’s Garden at the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY

“The Children’s Garden is a very much needed educational component to the Botanic Park,” she said. “It’s a place where children can have fun while learning with hands-on opportunities and where they will develop an understanding of the environment and love and respect for the Earth.

“It will inspire kids, parents and teachers to learn the importance of plants and how they affect the world. This is a very much deserving and needed component to our Botanic Park, and Greenlight Re is pleased to be a part of this project.”

The groundbreaking was also special for Kaz Basdeo Conolly, a young donor to the Children’s Garden. On his 8th birthday party, Kaz requested that friends give a donation to the Children’s Garden at the Botanic Park rather than give presents. He raised more than $200.

“I enjoyed the event yesterday and [am] looking forward to the garden opening. It is exciting and I hope others get involved so that it can open quickly,” Kaz said on Thursday.

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a nonprofit outdoor garden and wildlife facility located in the North Side district. The park is owned jointly by the Cayman Islands government and the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, a group dedicated to preserving natural environments and places of historic significance in the Cayman Islands.

The park also contains the Floral Colour Garden, a Cayman Heritage Garden, a lake, an orchid boardwalk exhibit and a Blue Iguana Habitat.

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