Hope Gardens is the largest public park in Kingston, spanning 81 hectares and featuring the largest collection of endemic and exotic botanical species in Jamaica.
The gardens receive their name from Major Richard Hope, one of the English settlers who invaded Jamaica and was granted ownership of an estate to reward him for his fidelity to the Crown. In 1881 the estate was acquired by the government to establish an experimental garden used to carry out tests for the introduction of new plants. It is currently administrated by the Nature Preservation Foundation, a non-profit association, and it can be enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
Queen Elizabeth II was so impressed by the gardens that she gave her permission to add ‘royal’ to the name. The gardens are next to the University of the West Indies, alongside a small zoo with animal species from all over the world.
There are many peculiar, beautiful tropical plants and trees in Hope Gardens, including the Blue Mahoe (hibiscus elatus), the national tree of Jamaica. This is a small tree with plenty of leaves and flowers that open in the morning, shifting in color from orange to deep red as the day advances.
The cactus garden, with many rare varieties, is particularly interesting, together with the impressive forest of palm trees and the bougainvillea promenade featuring an explosion of tropical colors, the annual gardens of exotic flowers and the hidden gardens, plus the lily pond.
If you go to Jamaica, make it a point to take a pleasant walk through Hope Gardens.
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