Although all of Jamaica is a plush, vibrant explosion of tropical plant beauty, nonetheless the Ultimate Jamaica All Inclusive Experience just has to contain a visit to one of Jamaica’s extraordinary arboretums. Each of the four botanical gardens in Jamaica possesses its own distinct aura, and each offers the visitor a unique experience. The botanical garden which is easiest to reach is located in the center of Kingston. Hope Gardens evokes photographs on picture postcards of a 1950’s public park – gracious and faintly suburban and filled with exotic as well as local favorites such as marigolds and lantana. Castleton Gardens, on the other hand, is glamorously reminiscent of the golden age of tourism in Jamaica when millionaires arrived in their own yachts before the island of Jamaica gave way to mass tourism. Castleton Gardens is traversed on artfully cobbled pathways which lead hither and yon, beneath high palm canopies and dangling orchid streamers. Castleton Gardens is renowned for its terraced, tropical ebullience dotted here and there with ornamental ponds.
The Bath botanical garden was established in 1779 on Jamaica’s southeastern side. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the entire world. Its early collections having been augmented during the Anglo-French war by the capture of a French vessel sailing from Mauritius which bore a cargo of foreign fruit trees, brindonne, carambola, jackfruit, June plums, cinnamon and other spices. Bath botanical garden’s proudest collection is the breadfruit trees brought by Captain William Bligh from Tahiti in 1793, on a second voyage after his first attempt was foiled by the mutiny on his ship Bounty led by Fletcher Christian. The Bath botanical garden is located far from the crowded Jamaica resorts in a quaint village of sagging historic houses which formerly boasted a fashionable spa with a hot springs. These springs were originally enjoyed by the likes of seventeenth century pirate king Henry Morgan. Entering Bath arboretum’s Victorian style iron entrance gate, the visitor is immediately struck by the sentinels of royal palm trees, Christmas palm from Philippines, Ylang ylangs from Indonesia, two aged, tropical dragon blood trees, and a 230-year old Barringtonia asiatica. The collection of breadfruit trees are descended from the original 346 trees brought by Captain William Bligh from Tahiti; and since breadfruit is propagated by clone rather than seed, most of the breadfruit trees throughout the Caribbean are descendants of these trees. With its fabulous tropical flower gardens Bath botanical garden is a plant-lovers’ paradise.
Cinchona Gardens is located at the top of Jamaica, at an altitude of 5000 feet, and no all inclusive in Jamaica vacation should miss seeing this fabulous attraction. Clouds boil up from the green, far-away, lower tropical valleys. The Garden was originally conceived in 1862 to be a 600-acre plantation of cinchona trees, from which the malaria medicine quinine is derived. When this production was pre-empted by the East Indies, the plan was changed to cultivating temperate tropical plants. Upon entering Cinchona Gardens, you are immediately confronted with enchanting, trimmed beds of begonias, daylilies, and geraniums. Wandering leisurely through the garden, the visitor is struck by the forest of Japanese cedar conifers, and the Lost World boulevard of ferns. Its vastly diversified, high altitude collection makes a visit to Cinchona Gardens an unforgettable adventure.