Spring Gardens, Tropical-Style in Costa Rica
'Spring flowers’ takes on new meaning in the tropics.
With Costa Rica’s epic biodiversity and commitment to conservation, lush, green landscapes are a given any time you visit. But some of the Central American country’s botanical gems are best discovered not in the wilderness, but in gardens crafted by human hands.
Here are five gardens to add ‘color’ to your trip to Costa Rica.
Botanical Orchid Garden
North America has 200 varieties of orchids. Luscious Costa Rica? 1300.
The “Guaria Morada” orchid is even the country’s national flower. Its name has a picturesque meaning: “purple country girl,” for its delicate petals with vivid hues. Unlike most greenhouse orchids we buy at home, it’s even scented. Local Tican tradition says the Guaria Morada brings good fortune.
Only an hour from the heart of Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, visitors can find the Botanical Orchid Garden in the quaint town of La Garita. The distinctive, purple Guaria Morada may be the star of the show. But it’s just one variety of a permanent collection of beautiful and rare orchids amassed in the garden you might not have a chance to see all together anywhere else. In addition to greenhouse space, visitors can walk tropical trails, and absorb the serenity of water gardens.
Lankester Botanical Garden
The 27-acre Lankester Botanical Garden is one of the most important orchid research centres in Latin America. It’s also just outside of San Jose, in Cartago province. The Botanical Garden’s mission is to promote conservation, enjoyment and sustainable use of flora through scientific research, horticulture and environmental education.
It’s home to more than 3,000 species of plants. Nearly 1,000 of those are native and exotic orchids. Although Costa Rica’s orchids bloom year-round, the garden is at its most spectacular between February and April.
Visitors used to greenhouse orchids in pots at home may find it hard to believe that many orchids are actually hard to spot in the wilderness, where typically grown in the forest canopy or trunks or branches. At the Botanical Garden, they’re displayed at eye level for optimal sight, scents and awe.
You can take a virtual tour of Lankester Botanical Garden here.
Caribbean Botanical Garden
Caribbean Botanical Garden is one of the first agro-tourism companies in Costa Rica’s province of Limón, located on the country’s Caribbean coast.
Rather than taking orchids from the wild, the botanical garden adheres to its conservation priorities and produces its orchids on site. It’s the only place in all of the Caribbean with a collection of over 300 species of national, foreign and hybrid orchids.
In-house propagation allows the orchids to be cultivated wildly across the botanical garden. And the orchids don’t live in the garden alone. You’ll also see toucans, parrots, tangaras, macaws and several other beautiful bird species flying above the treetops within the Caribbean Botanical Garden.
Else Kientzler Garden
It isn’t all about orchids. More than 2000 varieties of exotic tropical plants and flowers from around the world are on display at the Else Kientzler Garden on the outskirts of the artisan town of Sarchí, in central Costa Rica just over an hour’s north of the capital.
More than 2.5 km of beautifully landscaped trails reveal the vast collection of orchids, cacti, bromeliads, palms, succulents, heliconia and hibiscus from Costa Rica, New Zealand, Madagascar, Brazil, India, Japan and more.
Else Kientzler Garden offers a birdwatching tour as well as several wellness activities, including guided meditation, yoga, pilates and Tai Chi near its spectacular topiary labyrinth.
No wonder the garden is also a popular and magical venue for intimate weddings.
Monteverde Butterfly Gardens
Butterflies go hand in hand with flowers, and the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens reveal 30 species of butterflies amongst 4 different types of habitats.
It’s a must visit attraction for butterfly or flower lovers near Costa Rica’s mystical Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Visitors can learn about Costa Rica’s unique bug life, while exploring lush greenery and getting up close and personal with colourful Monarchs, Morphos and more. The garden’s mission is to change the way we think about insects and arachnids – yes, spiders!
by Lynn Elmhirst
in Outdoor Activities