In the beginning of the duPlooy Family’s life in Belize, there was no botanical garden in Belize or even any vegetation on the property. The original purchase in 1988 consisted of 20 acres where we built our lodge. In 1993 we purchased an adjacent farm consisting of 45 acres. Here, Ken duPlooy, serious raconteur, builder and wannabe botanist started planting his extensive collection of native orchids and palms. Also, a tropical fruit orchard was started to experiment with fruits not commonly grown in Belize at that time.
In 1997, Brendan Sayers from the Irish National Garden in Dublin, came to Belize to collect orchids. The first collecting expedition led to a long relationship with the Irish Garden. Brendan, noting that Ken had collected by permit only and recorded his collections, said that we had the makings of an official botanical garden. This was the beginning of Belize Botanic Gardens.
The garden was registered as a Belize non-profit company. Belize Botanic Gardens was, at the time, the only botanical garden in Belize and today it continues to be the largest. During one of Ken’s collecting expeditions with Brendan, a previously undescribed orchid, pleurothallis duplooyii was collected
Despite fighting heart disease for many years Ken worked enthusiastically in the garden until his death in August 2001. His ability to tell wildly exaggerated tales is still much missed by those who knew him.
Belize Botanic Gardens – Today
We’ll just skip a few years and lots of stories and see what’s happening now. In 2018 the Jungle Lodge was sold with the idea of my being able to devote more time and effort to realize the Gardens’ potential.
As a result, a number of changes have been made. New Learning Programs for Belize and International Students have been developed and a number of areas in the Garden have been enhanced, including the addition of the all new Palm area.
We have recently built a new front-office, an 8-Room Guest House and reworked the Visitors Center to compliment our Study Abroad in Belize program for international students. This includes adding a kitchen area and outdoor wood-burning fogón, where tasty home-cooked meals are prepared.
Garden Related Services
At both BBG and the Garden Shop in San Ignacio, which opened in 2015, we offer landscape consultation, along with the sale and installation of plants, fruit trees, soil mixes, coconut-fiber mulches and organic fertilizers & pesticides.
In 2017, realizing there is a growing market in Belize for health products, we’ve added organic health foods, lotions and potions and other health related products to our inventory at the Shop.