Bath Botanical Gardens
A canopy of Royal Palms (Roystonea regia ) beckons visitors to stop for a while at Bath Gardens, which is the second oldest garden in the western hemisphere. It was established in 1779, in the parish of St. Thomas. At present, Bath is the oldest remaining garden in Jamaica, occupying 0.4 hectares of land. It is located only two kilometres (2 km) from the mineral rich, hot spring at Bath Fountain. Lovers of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), Otaheite apple (Svzygium malacense) and ackee (Blighia sapida) will be pleased to know that these sumptuous foods were first introduced to Jamaica at Bath Gardens by Captain Bligh in 1793.
This exotic, historic garden was under the care of Dr. Thomas Clarke, a botanist, who also carried out research and experiments for the medicinal properties of the herbs that were present at the site. Valuable plants to be found in the garden are teas and spices useful for dyes, resins, varnishes and cabinet wood. The magnificence of Bath evolved as the garden slowly began to supply planters with a string of new and useful plant species. Beneficiaries of the flora-sharing world renowned Kew Gardens and the British Museum of Natural History in the United Kingdom.
The legacy of Bath Botanical Gardens is invaluable, and as such it was selected as the National Labour Day Project for 2007, under the theme: 'Honouring Our Ancestors, Strengthening Communities'. Restoration of the gardens included: repair of the perimeter fence, reconstruction of entire walkway, rebuilding of a gazebo, rehabilitation of bathrooms and reconstruction of the lily-pond. In addition, two storyboards that highlight the history of the garden and its exotic plants were erected near the entrance. There was also replanting of significant seedlings, namely: breadfruit, lychee, and Otaheite apple by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Portia Simpson Miller; then Deputy Prime Minister of Britain; and then Agriculture Minister of State.