My visit to Hope Gardens, Kingston
The Royal Botanical Gardens (commonly known as “Hope Gardens”), are quite easily accessible with public transport. Established in 1873 on a section of land owned by Major Richard Hope, the “gardens” occupy 200 acres of land in the Liguanea Plains of urban St. Andrew and today are known for being the largest public space in the Kingston metropolitan region.
There are many rare & beautiful species of tropical plants and trees to be found in Hope Gardens including the Hibiscus elatus (Blue Mahoe), Jamaica’s national tree. The specificity of this tree is that during the flowering season, its blossoms change from a primrose colour in the morning to orange and deep red as the day progresses.
The gardens are also known for their “amphitheatre” where the famous Jamaican folklorist, poet & storyteller, the honourable “Miss Lou” (Louise Bennett-Coverly (1919-2006)), used to hold Saturday morning tapings of her famous TV show “Ring Ding”. From time to time she would also organise music concerts by the Jamaica Military Band and poetry reading sessions.
Unfortunately, and probably due to financial difficulty, some parts of the gardens are a bit dilapidated nowadays, which in a sense is a shame. On the other-hand it adds a certain charm to the place and it remains one of the best places in Kingston to interact with nature and enjoy a leisurely picnic with family and friends.
As heavy rainfall interrupted our visit, we took the opportunity to have lunch in the little restaurant located in the park centre. Thanks to friendly staff and a good meal, a very agreeable experience!
Susan C. from Geneva, Switzerland