Hope Botanical Gardens
In 1873, another of Jamaica’s beloved places, the Hope Estate (Hope Botanical Gardens) was established. This estate was named after Major Richard Hope believed to be the first British owner of the land. ‘Hope’ is huddled between Long Mountain and St. Andrew Mountain. Most of the estate sits on the Liguanea Plain and spans approximately 21 hectares. In 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II came to Jamaica, the gardens were officially renamed the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Hope was a major experimental station for crops that were grown economically in the 1880’s. Some of the crops that were planted are sugarcane, cocoa, coffee, bananas, pineapple, yam, and sweet potato.
With its wide collection of flowering and non-flowering, exotic and endemic plants Hope is a continuous attraction site for many visitors. Hope boasts a variety of plant species, for example, the Cassia siamea which were planted in 1907 and now line the main entrance . Visitors are greeted by a fanfare of the leaves of the Corypha umbraculifera (Talipot/Century Palm) as they stroll through the entrance of the garden. In addition to the flora of the garden, a complimentary feature of Hope Gardens is the adjoining Hope Zoo.
Nature Preservation Foundation, a non government organization, has managed the garden since May 2005, and is now undertaking major redevelopment programmes. Major projects being carried out include rehabilitation of the Shell-Band Stand which was re-opened in May 2007; redesigning of the Fountain Garden which was sponsored by Digicel Corporation;, and construction of an Entry Plaza to the Zoo along with bathroom and stalls.
Plans are afoot to restore the Sunken Garden and to establish a Pavilion Garden, a Parrot Cage, and a crocodile exhibit through a grant of nearly JM $18.5 million received from the Tourism Enhancement Fund. There are also plans in place to construct a Hardening-off Shade House for the purpose of growing Tissue Culture plants. Funding of approximately JM $2.8 million was secured from European Union through JAMPRO.