Wish You Were Here! — Gardens of Jamaica

Wish You Were Here! — Gardens of Jamaica

Jerry is leading a tour this week to Port Antonio, Jamaica January 11th – 18th, 2015.
We would like to highlight just a few of the gardens Jerry will be visiting this week with the lucky participants of the 2015 Jamaica “Local Flavor” Flora and Fauna Tour.

P1070401The island of Jamaica has many unique and lush gardens.The northeast Parishes of Saint Mary, Saint Ann and Portland offer especially optimal conditions for growing flowering tropical plants.

 Norse Hill Estate Botanical Garden


Through the years, Iris Johanssen has planned, plotted and managed the estate’s botanical gardens with a keen eye for the indigenous flora, along with the exotic flowering plants, ferns and trees she imported. Albert, Norse Hill’s lead gardener since 1965, built the network of exploration trails under Mrs. Johanssen’s direction. He retired in 2014.garden

Guests encounter shimmering peacock ferns, colorful croton, hibiscus, allamanda, jade, red and yellow ixora, plumbago and poinciana, and hundreds of orchids. Fragrant allspice (called pimento in Jamaica), almond, breadfruit, cocoa, fig and nutmeg trees share the grounds with avocado, banana, orange, papaya, pineapple and tangerine trees. Trail walkers find serene ponds and tranquil meadows framed by groves of bamboo. And the abundance of tropical flora naturally attracts a variety of rare, colorful birds and butterflies – including Jamaica’s own “Doctor Bird” hummingbird.

Tropical BloomThe gardeners are delighted to take guests on tours. Don’t be surprised if you learn the Latin, English as well as the local Jamaican names for plants and trees in this exceptional collection!

  Castleton Botanical Garden

botanical garden

 The garden was established on  November 19,1862 as a result of dissatisfaction with the site at Bath, St. Thomas. Shortly afterwards, Castleton Gardens became one of the great gardens of the Hemisphere with its rich variety of plants. In the past, Castleton had over  4000 species of plants from the great English Garden at Kew. In 1897 there were 180 species of palm in the palmetum. Many plants introduced to the island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were planted here.

Many interesting plants can still be seen at Castleton today. These include, the strychnos from which medicine (and poison) strychnine is obtained, the Velvet Apple, West Indian Mahogany and specimens of coffee. Nestled in the hills of St. Mary, Castleton Gardens is a haven for nature lovers who want a cool, quiet place to relax.

Castleton Botanical Garden

 Cranbrook Flower Forest

Cranbrook Flower Forest

At the entrance to Cranbrook Flower Forest is the restored remains of an old sugar mill. The mill is believed to be around 200 years old and now houses a museum. Many tame peacocks live on site and can usually be found flanking the mill building. Near to the entrance is a pathway lined with royal palms, leading to a pagoda which overlooks the Little River.

Further on there is a series of landscaped gardens. One of which contains a recreation of a traditional Arawak village, showing the kind of housing the Taino Indians lived in prior to the discovery of Jamaica by the Spanish

Rio Grande

During the course of our trip we are also visiting a magnificent waterfall, taking a bamboo raft cruise down the Rio Grande river and visiting an orchid farm. Check out highlights of this year’s tour and find out how you can sign up to have first chance at getting in on the 2016 trip. Space is limited to 9 double occupancy rooms of one king or two twin beds so both couples and friends are invited to join in.

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 I hope you can join us next year!  —Jerry