Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens by NomadInMe.
The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is one of the Cayman Islands top attractions. It is the home of the endangered Blue Iguana found only on Grand Cayman. As well as a host of foreign and domestic flora and fauna, including the endemic Banana Orchid.
The Grand Cayman botanical gardens offer a fun day out for the entire family with a variety of beautifully manicured gardens and woodland trials featuring a variety of exotic plants and native flora and fauna. Two of the Cayman Islands most famous natural plant and animal species can be observed here, the Blue Iguana and Banana Orchid.
In addition to this a newly built lookout tower, children’s play area and gift shop, selling a variety of local goodies. In this blog post we will cover everything you need to know about the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens including:
- About Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens.
- What to see in the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens.
- Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens Blue Iguanas.
- Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens Banana Orchids.
- Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens Cayman Parrot
- Getting there.
About Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens
The Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens, named Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1994. At this time only the woodland trail was completed. The park now has 7 distinct trials and gardens set in 65 acres of primary forest and bushland in the North Side of Grand Cayman.
In 2008 and 2009 the park was invited to enter a design into the world-renowned Chelsea Flower Show. A silver and gold medal was won in consecutive years for the Heritage Garden and Undersea Reef Garden also taking the Presidents most creative award.
The Orchid Boardwalk
The botanical gardens orchid boardwalk is my favourite part of the botanical gardens and one of the more recent additions. It showcases several species of orchid including 10 of the 28 orchid species known on the Cayman Islands. 4 of which are endemic to the islands, meaning they are found nowhere else on earth.
The most famous of these endemic orchids produce the countries national flower, the banana orchid. This robust epiphyte, flowers in the early summer producing a delicate white and purple flower with a distinct fragrance. They can be seen throughout the park and the island on various woodland trails and in peoples gardens.
The Northern hemispheres summer months make up the rainy season in the Cayman Islands when the orchids in the park can be seen in bloom. May and June are the best months to see the Banana orchid flowers.
Floral Colour Garden
One of the stars of the Grand Cayman botanical gardens is the floral colour garden. A gravel pathway leads through a number of gazebos and established trees. Fringed by a plethora of colour coordinated foliage, starting with pinks then red, orange, yellow, white, blue, purple and lavender.
Butterflies welcome the rich and colourful foliage with 56 species known to frequent the park, 5 of which are endemic to the Cayman Islands. Butterflies are not the only endemic animals, always be on the lookout for Blue Iguanas, meandering through the perfectly maintained gardens.
The Heritage Garden
The Heritage garden reflects upon plants that have had agricultural significance to the Cayman islanders throughout the years. They include endemic species such as the Silver Thatch Palm, which was used for its fibrous structure to make rope for domestic use and trading.
In addition, you will find a variety of fruit trees and plants used for homoeopathic medicines and to treat illnesses, including breadfruit and mango which are prolific in the Cayman Islands. At the centre of the garden, you will find a 100-year-old Caymanian home which has been beautifully restored.
The Xerophytic Garden contains a variety of drought-tolerant plants. All of which will grow well, with little care and maintenance in the Cayman Islands. The short walk through this part of the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens will allow you to discover a variety of hardy, low lying plants that are commonly found in dry and hot conditions.
Local gardening enthusiasts will appreciate the knowledge gained in this part of the park. Not only can cacti and succulents be grown successfully and with little maintenance in Cayman. A variety of grasses and perennial species can be observed with little compromise in the way of shape, texture and colour.
The lake can be found at the end of the floral colour garden and leads directly to the woodland trail. It was formed from an area of swampland at the centre of the park. The Cayman Islands are home to swamps and natural wetlands. By incorporating this into the gardens allows the local plant and animal life to continue to thrive in the area.
Several species can be observed around the lake including the threatened west Indian whistling duck and a variety of other aquatic birds. In addition, the North Antillean slider, a species of freshwater turtle found only in the Cayman Islands and Cuba.
The Woodland Trial
The Woodland Trail was the parks first exhibit and allows visitors to the Cayman Islands to safely view and explore Grand Caymans natural landscape. The trail circles about 50 acres of land of which around 50% of the flora is native to the Cayman Islands.
It reflects what much of the islands are made up of whilst allowing you to safely explore and observe the plant and animal species. Rare native trees such as the Cockspur tree and Bull Thatch Palm can be observed.
Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens Banana Orchid
The Banana Orchid is the Cayman Islands national flower and can be seen throughout the Grand Cayman botanical gardens. They flower once a year at the beginning of the rainy season with your best chance of viewing them between May and June. The variety found on the sister islands, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac differs slightly with a more yellow petal and purple centre. The Grand Cayman variety is bright white with a purple centre.
The genus Myrmecophila which they fall under hints at some of the plant’s traits. The Banana Orchid has a mutualistic relationship with ants, which nest in their dead pseudobulbs and in return protect them from pests. Another interesting fact about the Grand Cayman botanical gardens Banana Orchids is their main pollinator is actually a beetle.
Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens Blue Iguana
The Blue Iguana is also known as the Grand Cayman ground Iguana is an endangered species of iguana endemic to the island of Grand Cayman. It is one of the longest living species of iguana, living up to 70 years old. Females lay eggs in the sand and they are known to prefer rocky, sunlit areas. They are herbivores, feeding on fruit, plants and flowers.
In 2003 they were close to extinction with fewer than 15 wild iguanas on Grand Cayman. This was down to a number of common reasons such as habitat loss, human and animal interference etc.
Fortunately number are rising again thanks to various captive breeding programmes, one of which is located on the woodland trial. The Blue Iguanas are still seldom seen in the wild on Grand Cayman, however a large population roam free around the park. In addition the park offers a Blue Iguana Safari Tour, where you can learn more about these fascinating animals.
Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens Cayman Parrot
Another noteworthy visitor to the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens in the endemic Cayman Parrot. They are the only wild parrots in the Cayman Islands and can be identified by a white forehead, a pale bill and pink cheeks. A subspecies exists on Cayman Brac with slight differences.
This beautiful, rare bird can only be seen in the Cayman Islands with only around 1900 on Grand Cayman and under 500 in Cayman Brac. They can be seen most commonly in the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens and in other areas on the North Side and East End including the Mastic Trail.
The Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens are located on the North Side of Grand Cayman on Frank Sound Road, easily accessible by taxi, public bus or by driving. You will need to allow about 45 minutes from George Town and 7-mile beach.
When visiting Grand Cayman a visit to the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens is an absolute must. Many visitors rarely venture far from 7-mile beach. However, the eastern districts of the island offer a great insight into the true natural beauty of the Cayman Islands. If you would like to find out more about what to do in Grand Cayman you may enjoy this article https://nomadinme.com/what-to-do-in-grand-cayman/.
Have you visited the Grand Cayman Botanical Gardens? If so, be sure to leave a comment below to share your experiences.
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