By Jim Bishop.
In November of 2019, Scott and I participated in the Pacific Horticulture Tour of Costa Rica.
Our trip started in the capital city, San José. From there we did several day long trips. On a walking tour of San José we found that unlike much of Central America, it is a relatively new country without much of a colonial past but does have nice museum with pre-Columbian artifacts.
Nectandra Cloud Forest
The first day, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, we visited a private cloud forest preserve northwest of San Jose to the Nectandra Cloud Forest Gardens.
The preserve is for scientific field research by the Nectandra Institute. Current research includes identification of dominant and unusual plants, and investigation into the variables influencing natural reforestation in cloud forests.
Some plants included in the garden are for aesthetics while others are for their importance in medicinal, indigenous and cultural uses.
We walked through the dense forest in the clouds observing the insects, birds and flora, streams and experiencing the serenity of the place.
Sarchi Orchid Gardens
The Sarchi Else Kientzler botanical garden was created by Ludwig Kientzler, who wanted to contribute to education and environmental conservation.
The project started in 1998 in an old coffee farm, and was officially opened on July 27, 2006, after nine years of preparation. Else Kientzler Botanical Garden has around 2000 species of plants in its 11 garden areas.
Unlike the dense cloud forest garden we visited in the morning, this garden was the exact opposite with wide pathways, roads and more formally designed and less naturalistic gardens.
Thomas Wiedenmann Gardens
Day 2 we visited Thomas Wiedenmann Gardens near the town of Guacimo in Limon near the caribbean coast.
It is a private nursery that grew exotic tropical flowers which they exported mainly to Europe. Thomas has a passion for tropical plants that flourish in the humid forests of the Caribbean. His garden consists of a collection exotic plants such as heliconias, palms, gingers, calatheas, bromeliads, cordylines, cycads, dracaenas and more.
Thomas also grows exotic fruit trees such as the mangosteen; a real treat when in season! The farm receives lots of rain every year and is able to produce year round. Thomas is working on creating hybrid bromeliads in multicolor displays. The owner said it was too difficult to export to the U.S. due to all of the agricultural inspection rules. After the packing house tour, we were given a tour of the growing grounds and gardens.
Lunch at Turrialtico Turrialtico is rustic wood lodge with panoramic views over the valley and mountain range.The property is surrounded by tropical gardens. We saw some toucans across the road high up in the trees but too far away to photograph.