Teenage

Celebrating Jamaica50 - Castleton Garden

Di-Andra Brown

Tuesday, September 11, 2012    

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THIS week's Jamaica 50th feature is the beautiful Castleton Botanical Gardens.

These gardens located on either side of the Kingston to St Mary main road was established on the of November 19, 1862 on the site of a sugar plantation owned by the English planter, Colonel Castle.

Jamaica's main botanical gardens were originally located in Bath, St Thomas, but were relocated to this location because the constant floods of the nearby sulphuric river were adversely affecting the plant life.

In 1869, Colonel Castle gifted the gardens to the government of Jamaica. The gardens cover 15 acres of mountain valley and straddles both sides of the Junction Road.

In the past, Castleton was home to over four thousand species of plants from the great English Garden at Kew. In 1897, there were 180 species of palm in the Palmetum. It was one of the most richly stocked Gardens in the Caribbean.

Many plants introduced to Jamaica in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were planted here. Most notably the poinciana, bombay mango, navel orange, and tangerine.

Other important exotic trees, palms and shrubs in the garden today include: Cestrum Nocturnum (Night Jasmine), Spathodea Campanulata (Flame of the Forest), Lit-chi Chinensis (Chinese Guinep) and Sanchezia Nobilis (Hummingbird Fountain).

The Wag Water River flows through Castleton parallel to the botanical gardens, adding to the tranquillity and enchanting beauty of the area. These days there are around 25 species of palm trees in the palmetum, some of which are around 100 years old. Castleton Gardens is a haven for nature lovers who want a cool, quiet place to relax. And is an ideal place for a picnic.

It is also one of the oldest botanical Gardens in the Western Hemisphere. The gardens are open to the public and does not have an entrance fee. They are open from as early as 5:30 am everyday except National Labour Day and National Heroes' Day. If ever you want to escape from everyday life and get in touch with nature we urge you to visit the magnificent Castleton Botanical Gardens.

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