By Freda Rumford from the April 2016 Edition
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.
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.”
Mexican Orchid of the Month:
Found as an epiphyte in evergreen cloud forests among the high peaks of Oaxaca and Guerrero, the Artorima Erubescens produces showy, fragrant flowers in the winter and early spring. Continued logging in those regions has caused this orchid to become a rare find. It is reported to require freezing nocturnal temperatures to bloom, making it a tricky plant for amateur gardeners to care for. The stigma’s T-shaped slits, which catch the feet of bees, make it unusual within the orchid family. (Many thanks to Vallarta Orchid Society President T. J. Hartung for permission to draw on information from his publication “Orchids Found ONLY in Mexico,” available in the Gardens’ gift store.)
Garden Amenities and Services
“Visit the Gardens’ Hacienda de Oro Restaurant for authentic Mexican food and brick-oven pizza. Our new menu includes delicious dishes such as fish and shrimp tacos. Hike the Gardens’ nature trails and bask in tropical mountain scenery. Experience the Orchid Conservatory, Gift Shop, plant nursery, tequila tasting and more. You can even shop the Gardens remotely through our online store. The very best of Vallarta!
“The Gardens and the Hacienda de Oro Restaurant are available for weddings and other special events.” Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Leaflet” Newsletter from Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens is available on line.
Much more information can be found at www.vbgardens.org
There are many special days throughout the year. The following are just some of them.
Vallarta Bird Festival March 5-6 (just gone by)
The full description of this event—including tours, speakers and other activities—is now posted at www.vallartabirdfestival.org. Keep an eye on it for next year!
Easter/Pascua Gardens are open all week
Other events held throughout the year (check the site calendar for updates or sign up to the mailing list)
- Hummingbird Week at the VBG
- Bougainvillea Festival
- World Environment Day at the VBG.
- Blackberry Harvest Festival.
- Mexican National Arbor Day at the VBG.
- Butterfly Celebration at the VBG.
- Day of the Dead at the VBG.
- Thanksgiving at the VBG.
The Vallarta Botanical Gardens, A. C.
Your Best Vacation Value!
Spend the day in the Gardens for only $100 pesos (20 pesos for kids 4-12).
Located 30 minutes south of Old Town, Puerto Vallarta, on Carretera a Barra Navidad at km 24, just past Las Juntas y Los Veranos.
Telephone (322) 223-6182
Open from 10 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week, from December through March, with the exception of Christmas and New Years Day (check the web site for closures and summer season hours).
Some events require advance reservations.
The Vallarta Botanical Gardens are members of:
- Botanic Gardens Conservation International of Surrey, England Patron HRH Charles, Prince of Wales.
- The American Public Gardens Association of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, USA.
- Asociacion Mexicana de Orquideologia of Mexico City (Districto Federal).
The Gardens are registered as an UMA (Unidad de Manejo Para La Conservacion De Vida Silvestre), an official Wildlife Conservation Management Unit through SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), Mexico’s Agency of Environment and Natural Resources.
Regular membership $95 USD/year (seniors $85 USD/year), with many privileges as outlined on the website
Individual membership $60 USD/year (seniors $54 USD/year), all of the privileges of regular membership, but for just one individual, accompanying guests pay their own admission.