“The world needs parks. Whether they’re slivers of green in a crowded city or 20,000 square miles of designated wilderness. Parks nourish the human spirit, help sustain the planet, and reflect the ideals of the societies that protect them.” (National Geographic, Oct. 2006).
A walk through Dominica’s Botanical Gardens is not only a walk in beauty but a lesson in the science of tropical plants.
The “Gardens,” as it is popularly known, is situated on land formally cultivated in sugarcane, and was later turned into a garden where crop seedling could be propagated for the island’s farmers. Now it is divided into two sections – the ornamental and exotic plant section and the economic plant section.
In 1979, the passing of Hurricane David wrought havoc on the gardens, nearly all the tree were up-rooted and many were blown to pieces. However, the gardens were cleared of debris and replanted. Today the Botanical Gardens are a tropical haven of colour and a place of tranquility to many islanders and visitors alike.
In the gardens, flowers, plants and trees wear more then pretty faces, they’re likely to be labeled with proper botanical names. Tours and exhibits are designed to enhance knowledge of about 50 types of trees from all over the world.
Visit the Parrot sanctuary, where it’s possible to see two of Dominica’s rarest parrots, the Sisserou and the Jako.
Walk up the 35 steps behind the parrot sanctuary to join “Jack’s Walk”; a steep 15 minute climb to the hilltop (Morne Bruce), where a huge cross and cannon share the spectacular view over Roseau, the bay front and the Botanical Gardens.
Catch a weekend cricket match, the gardens host a number of other activities including parades, independence celebrations, the annual LIME Creole in the Park, and recreational activities.
Dominica’s Botanical Gardens beauty and serenity still mark it as one of the gems of the Caribbean, and are well worth a visit.