Posted: Friday, June 14, 2019. 3:16 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: It is quite easy to become so preoccupied in the everyday hustle and bustle of life that all too often, we may not take the time to stop and appreciate the simple wonders. Even as Belizeans, many of us have not had the opportunity to visit some of the most popular and cherished destinations in our own country, while others use their free time to travel and seek thrills abroad. Traveling abroad for leisure is always exciting, but there is also a reason waves of tourists arrive from every corner of the globe to visit and enjoy the many natural marvels of Belize.
As the saying goes, ‘we live where they vacation’; all the more reason to explore our own backyard. Despite popular belief among some that there’s nothing to do in Belize, there’s plenty to do if you know where to look. For those fond of exploring nature’s splendor, there’s an abundance of ways to do just that.
One place to gain an even deeper appreciation for the natural beauty that Belize offers is the Botanical Garden located at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge on the Hummingbird Highway. The garden was created in 2008 by Ella and Ian and has become a scientific field station to collect, document and preserve the flora and fauna throughout Belize. The botanical garden is maintained by a team of dedicated enthusiasts with a passion for botany and the best part, you don’t need any knowledge of botany to understand that plants are beautiful and amazing.
The garden specializes in the collection of epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants including ferns, orchids, air plants and bromeliads. It has the largest collection in the entire country. All of the plants are native to tropical rainforests, jungles and wildlands and are maintained within the botanical garden as samples found from these sites in Belize. Included among the countless and carefully maintained plants is Belize’s national flower, the gracious Black Orchid. The orchid is on spectacle to protect and foster the deep appreciation for Belize’s native specimens. Many, who haven’t seen the mythic flower in person before, would be surprised to know that the actual flower is indeed quite tiny compared to the familiar images printed in countless books and publications. The awe of seeing one up close is as thrilling as it is satisfying. The garden also cultivates certain species of orchids and other bromeliads identified only in Belize.
A walk through the entrance of the garden grounds is like stepping into an instant zone of zen. It’s quieter, calmer, relaxing and entrancing. Attractive and playful colors from flowers, orchids and others are welcoming and are certainly a delightful eye-filling experience. The beautiful yet dizzying patterns of purples and whites of some orchids and flowers guides visitors through a kaleidoscopic optic adventure. Birds of all kinds frequent the garden, doing their part in the eternal cycle of creation, helping the pollination process of plants and flowers of all shapes, sizes, shades and species. One specie is even shaped like a pink heart, for those captivated by the romance of nature. The garden even contains certain little known facts, including samples of vanilla grown right here in Belize.
The team at the Botanical Garden also guides tours for students and interested visitors. They also support garden clubs at several elementary schools and are happy for volunteers looking to learn more about the many varieties of colorful and exotic flora and fauna that make exploring Belize a unique and lasting experience. A wider tour of the gardens also offer the opportunity to experience other precious plants in their natural element including local coffee, rich and exquisite natural cacao, papaya, pineapple, sugar cane and lemongrass.
Touring the garden at Cave’s Branch is an experience that can be enjoyed individually or with a group of friends and loved ones. One simple visit is inspiring enough to encourage return visits and open the doors to new adventures all around Belize just waiting to be discovered.
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