250 Years of Growth: St. Vincent's Botanical Gardens

The tropical Caribbean paradise of St.Vincent Botanical Garden is home to rare tropical species and the St. Vincent Parrot.
The tropical Caribbean paradise of St.Vincent Botanical Garden is home to rare tropical species and the St. Vincent Parrot.

St. Vincent's Botanical Gardens are the oldest tropical botanic gardens in the world. Established in 1765 by then-governor Robert Melville, this oasis is home to a variety of unusual tropical species, including offspring of the original breadfruit that Captain Bligh brought to the island (years after his infamous mutiny on the Bounty). Bligh had carefully transported these plants from Tahiti, and transplanted them on the island of St. Vincent. Eventually, they fueled the colonization of the rest of the islands.

St. Vincent's Botanical Gardens played a crucial role in the introduction, establishment, and distribution of the cultivars from Bligh's original breadfruit plants. The gardens were cultivated with care for nearly a century; however, in 1850, under Curator George Caley's eye, they fell into disrepair. It wasn't until the 1880s, when the gardens were once again under the British Government's ownership, that they were rebuilt to their former glory.

Protecting St. Vincent's National Bird

St. Vincent's Botanical Gardens play a critical role in conservation. Inside the garden is the Nicholas Wildlife Aviary Complex, which actively maintains a captive breeding program aimed to conserve the St. Vincent Parrot, St. Vincent's national bird. Imagine walking the 20-acre paradise, shrouded by lush teak, cannonball, and mahogany trees, and looking up to see the brilliant, rainbow-hued feathers of this vulnerable species of bird.

Visit the Botanical Gardens

Today the gardens are one of the most visited sites on St. Vincent; despite their popularity, they provide visitors with a tranquil, serene environment to explore. Increased tourism in the area has allowed the gardens to flourish as a product of economic growth and a source of local pride. They're also a stunning setting for celebrations such as weddings or family festivities. A short walk from Kingstown, the gardens boast an inexpensive tour, guided by locals, that is both informative and entertaining. Take time to read the placards and learn about the fruitful, unusual past of these historical tropical gardens on your next visit to the Caribbean.

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