top of page

MY LIFE WITH PLANTS: Costa Rica Riches - Las Cruces Botanical Station

By Jim Bishop.

This is a continuation of our trip to Costa Rica in November 2019.

Monkey in the garden at one of our lunch stops.

After several days in around San José we boarded small planes and flew to the Pacific side of Costa Rica to Golfito, near the Panama border.

A lovely Bahinia in front of the San Jose private airport.
Golfito, near the Panamanian Border.

Upon arrival we boarded small boats and visited a private garden on a island in beautiful bay.

Lots of tropical jungle . . . well, lots of tropical jungle everywhere in Costa Rica.

One of the many remote houses built in jungle.

Casa Orquideas

Our arrival at Casa Orquideas.

Casa Orquideas is the private island botanical garden of U.S. citizens Ron and Trudy McAllister, who have lived in this remote region since the 1970s. The beautifully landscaped private tropical garden shows off hundreds of species of ornamental and edible tropical plants that have been collected and cared by the McAllister's.

A pathway into the garden from the beach

Many of the plants were labeled...or in this case signed.

Beauty everywhere.

The gardens meander through the colorful plants to see countless species of tropical plants, including palms, heliconias, orchids, exotic fruit trees, spices, flowers and medicinal plants that the McAllister’s have collected and cultivated over these many years.

Delicate Heliconia flower.
Unusual Flower.
Thunbergia grandiflora swallowing a tree.
Thunbergia grandiflora closeup.
The bamboos get very large in the tropics.
A delicate and colorful bromeliad.
Saw a close cousin of the plant in the Peruvian highlands the previous month.
Something red and fuzzy.
Don't stand still or things will grow on you.
Orchid sprays.
Where the owner's lived.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

We had a wonderful lunch in a nearby in a treehouse like private resort.

Tropical downpour beyond the dock at Casa Orquideas, where we had lunch.


Gardens leading up to the resort.

Scott recuperating from the tropical heat in the treehouse-like resort.

We dodged the downpours on our return to the mainland.

Las Cruces Biological Station

After returning to the mainland we traveled by bus into the mountains and stayed at Las Cruces Biological Station for the next two nights. It is set in a wonderful garden setting with many bromeliads and tropical plants.

A really nice bromeliad display.
How cool is this? Red flowers on the ground.

A scarlet Passiflora blossom.

Lots and lots of bromeliads.

The gardens there were wonderful, with a small garden designed by the famous Brazilian architect, Roberto Burle Marx loaded with bromeliads.

The garden is surrounded by acres of additional tropical gardens and forests.

A nice Philodendron.
Colorful palm seeds.

Las Cruces Biological Station is owned and operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica. It is located near the Panamanian border on Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast.

The station is home to the Wilson Botanical Gardens featuring beautifully diverse plantings of tropical and subtropical ornamentals, representatives of unusual plant families, and rare and endangered plants from Costa Rica and elsewhere. The forest is classified as a Tropical Premontane Rainforest and the wide range in elevation allows for a high diversity with the forest home to over 2,000 plant species.

Algae growing on bamboo.
Thorny palm trunks.
How the cloud forest gets its name.

There was a large display of Heliconias.
Another Heliconia.

Colorful butterfly on a ginger.
A very large leafed Philodendron.

There was bird feeding area near the dining hall that drew many colorful birds.

Casa Botania Lunch Stop

After exploring the gardens of Las Cruces Biological Station we stopped for a leisurely lunch at Casa Botania. Here we saw toucans and monkeys in the trees and explored the grounds and gardens.

A colorful Toucan.

One of several wild monkeys that made a short visit.

Scott in Bamboo.
Looking up inside of Bamboo jungle.
They had some cute accommodations.
Shampoo ginger.
Blooms on a banana plant.

Finca Cántaros

After lunch visited to Finca Cántaros located in San Vito. San Vito was founded in 1952 by Italian settlers. The property is over 17 acres with a cool, comfortable, tropical highlands climate. Finca Cantaros is constantly adding to its plant collection with an eye to attractive landscaping.

A short video of our visit ot Finca Cantaros:


Jim Bishop is the 2019 - 2020 SDHS Horticulturist of the Year among many, many other things.


bottom of page