By Freda Rumford from the March 2013 Edition
with many thanks to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Forever it seems; orchids have been a joy to me, the delicacy of the flowers the transparency and waxy feel of the petals and the glorious colours. Oh those glorious colours.
We were lucky several years ago in being able to go to an Orchid Nursery on the side of Mount Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii, and spent far more time than expected in wandering through the lines of exotic flowers. The freezing chill of being at the top of the volcano before sunrise then completely forgotten as the warmth of the sun at last penetrated the skin which had been so unprepared to be frozen in the tropics.
Now in Mexico, I had forgotten my previous experience and was surprised to not only find a beautiful specimen for a friend’s birthday but realise how inexpensive they were to buy. Not only that but when I finally had a beautiful mauve orchid of my own, how very unforgiving it was to a person who slaughters plants on a regular basis.
On discussing orchids one evening at a Thirsty Thursday dinner, I was delighted to hear that there was an orchid nursery not far from Manzanillo and decided that I would find its whereabouts and pay a visit just as soon as I was able. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the lack of advertising and promotion, the nursery is not to be found. Other people have been there, so I will continue to search, but in the meantime I have discovered a prize.
I have discovered the “Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens!” Although absolutely not a green thumb myself, I have had the pleasure of going to the annual Chelsea Flower show in London, and to Kew Gardens while loving the beautiful show of dahlias that my husband grew in our greenhouse as a novice gardener. I can appreciate the beauty, perfume, colours and everything about plant life. Just don’t leave it with me to tend.
Not being in a position currently to go physically to the Botanical Gardens, I discovered contact names and emails on the web and wrote asking permission to use excerpts or perhaps an article from one of the subscribers to the web site. What I actually got in very short order was immediate permission from the board of directors to use whatever material I needed from the website. This was help indeed.
I browsed the material getting more and more excited and enthralled as I went. This was absolutely wonderful and whatever I did not visit, this is now an absolute must for me to see.
In the beginning
The following is taken from the Web site for the Botanical Gardens:
“The Vallarta Botanical Gardens started in 2004 with a vision of building Mexico’s greatest botanical garden in the enchanted tropical highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The twenty acres that are now the Gardens were ranch property, nearly half of which was overgrazed cattle pasture, the other half, old growth tropical deciduous forest.
“The first building constructed was the Hacienda de Oro Visitor Center and Restaurant, the centerpiece structure of the Gardens. Next came the nurseries for plant propagation, trails throughout the property, a statuary making facility, and of course many plants.
“Over 6000 Blue Agaves (Agave tequilana) adorn our ‘Blue Agave Hills’ while this area is being re-forested with native tropical hardwood trees. Over 1000 native tabebuia, mountain pine and mahogany trees have been planted in this former cattle grazing area, deforested over 30 years ago. Native oak species are being grown from acorns to establish our Mexican Oak Collection. Considering that Mexico is the world leader in oak diversity with over 160 different species, this is sure to become a prized feature of the Garden.
“The success of the Vallarta Botanical Gardens has allowed us to give back to our community in a variety of ways. We provide free admission to the Gardens to over 1,000 visiting school children each year. We have collaborated with Grassroots Natural Resource Conservation and indigenous knowledge proponents including the Maya Nut Institute and the Center for Traditional Medicine. We have participated in tropical plant research with the American Orchid Society and Sam Houston State University.”
“The Botanical Gardens are situated about 20 kms. from the southern outskirts of Puerto Vallarta and can be reached by the local bus service.
“This is an ideal place for those wishing to see a little more of Mexico but concerned about the potential dangers of travelling within Mexico currently. There are many hotels that offer reasonably priced accommodation and dozens of places to dine and maybe dance a little. A visit would make a nice weekend even though in the middle of the week maybe? Ranked #9 of 70 attractions in Puerto Vallarta.”