The iconic dome at the Botanical Gardens in Kingstown. (Internet photo)

Curator of the Botanical Gardens Gordon Shallow says there is “a great need for greater financial support [for] the Gardens” as it celebrates it 250th anniversary.

The Botanical Gardens, which was established in 1765, is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere, and a series of activities will begin this month to mark its 250th anniversary.

Speaking at the launch of those activities recently, Shallow said that after becoming curator of the Gardens on April 10, 2013, he conducted a literature review, because he wanted to find out why the Gardens, “a place of such rich, cultural and historical, and scientific value and beauty had declined over the years…

“It is with no doubt that we can point out that the Gardens has gone through, as we would say colloquially, some hard times over the years. And with the literature review, it helped me to understand the points of this,” he said.

Shallow noted that the Gardens has changed management many times, including during the colonial era, and was abandoned in 1849.

“We would have seen the Gardens in more recent time going through a bit more struggle, even moving from the Ministry of Agriculture, after being hit more hardly with the mealy bug and other different diseases and so forth…” he further said.

Shallow said the Ministry of Tourism, which at one point was responsible for the Gardens, “did a very good job of keeping what was left”, and under the management of the National Parks, Rivers, and Beaches Authority, there has been a “rise of the Gardens”.

Gordon said, however, that there has been a lack of sustainable financing for the Gardens.

The activities begin in earnest on Sept. 8 with a back in time evening.

A floral competition based on the national colours and symbols will be held on Oct. 27, Independence Day.

On Jan. 23, 2015, to commemorate the arrival of Captain Bligh, there will be a parade from Kingstown Harbour to Botanical Garden.

Captain Bligh first brought the breadfruit tree to St. Vincent, and one of those trees was planted in the Gardens.

Shallow said organisers of the celebratory activities are aiming in 2015 to have each student visit the Gardens, so that they can learn about its history, and be encouraged to study horticulture.

On Feb. 14, 2015, there will be a Valentine’s moonlight dinner at Curator’s House and the Amphitheatre, and a tree-planting ceremony on March 14, 2015 – National Heroes Day.

On April 21, 2015, there will be a treasure hunt for children and a cultural fair and family day.

There will be free entry to the Gardens for all national on May 1, 2015, when an exhibition of local art and talent will also be staged.

A three-day scientific symposium will be held in July and botanical gardens throughout the Commonwealth will be encouraged to come and celebrate along with SVG’s Botanical Gardens under the theme “The Botanical Gardens — From SVG to the World. Celebrating 250 years of Conservation and Bio-diversity.”

In August, there will be the launching of different agricultural plots, and the re-opening of once existing trails, and smaller herb and medicinal gardens.

The presentation of staff awards and recognition of benefactors, will take place on Nov. 27, 2015, followed by the lighting of the Gardens for Christmas 2015, from Dec. 16-24.

3 replies on “SVG’s Botanical Gardens, the Western Hemisphere’s oldest, turns 250”

  1. The Gardens has been in a disgraceful state of neglect for decades following 200 years of glory. Our colonial masters mainly kept it up; our creole rulers have nearly destroyed it.

    What a pathetic country we have become.

    1. this is the only time that i have agreed with you .i am ashamed to look at what the gardens has come to, its disgraceful to the older folks who once knew the splendors of the botanic gardens.can you please speak out much more about this matter, bring this matter up to whom is in charge.

  2. My APPRECIATION to THE ST. VINCENT BOTANIC GARDENS.

    As one who believes that I am a direct descendent of two past caretakers of the KINGSTOWN BOTANIC GARDENS, in SVG, I know that the WESTERN HEMISPHERE’s oldest Botanical Gardens CAN ACTIVELY, EFFICIENTLY, EFFECTIVELY AND PRO-ACTIVELY PAY ITS WAY.

    A much more significantly IMPORTANT issue though, is for the 21st Century SVG BOTANIC GARDENS to re-vitalize, re-energize and refresh itself, by TWO AND A HALF CENTURIES LATER, re-visiting A CONTEMPORARY IMPORTATION OF PLANT SPECIES FROM THE ORIGINAL SOURCES-PLACES, Tahiti, the Pacific Isles, East Africa, India – – – and new source-places, primarily Vietnam.

    The Botanic Gardins should transform itself into a Center of Excellence for Agricultural Education, development of plant species, commercial propagation of species, widening of our flowers and other flora plant, and importation, development, ‘archiving’, and sales of seeds and plantlings – – – even if some of these activities might of necessity be positioned or stationed off-campus.

    In all these activities, and more, our SVG Botanic Gardens should work in close cooperation with the official Government Agricultural, Forestry, Fishery, Education, Youth, Community Development, and Foreign Trade portfolios.

    KEW GARDENS in England and the BOTANIC GARDENS in Jamaica were transplanted, fed and developed from the BREADFRUIT, ASIATIC AND other EXOTIC PLANTS destined mainly for ST. VINCENT. My family, I am told, had a direct hand in transplanting these plants, especially the Breadfruit saplings, by family sloop to the other West Indian islands from the LEEWARDS to TRINIDAD, plus GUYANA.

    I suggest that we officially transplant the KINGSTOWN BOTANIC GARDEN phenomena to amply suitable locations/spots in BEQUIA, MUSTIQUE, CANOUAN, PRUNE / PALM ISLAND, PETIT ST. VINCENT, AND UNION ISLAND. Similarly, we ought complete other substantial transplants of area BOTANIC GARDENS, initially to all the rural towns – – – and soonest also to other highly populated villages/townships. After 250 years of a GLOBALLY-SIGNIFICANT EVENT in our SVG history, this latter is the very least that we can do. Do we have a NATION, or don’t we? Are we an INDEPENDENT STATE, or aren’t we? Surely, we can do good things, BIG ONES,on our own?

    The conceptualization and development of the KINGSTOWN BOTANIC GARDENS were ORIGINAL AND PATH-BREAKING. From our pioneering Breadfruit and exotic plants project formed the inspiration and forerunner of GREAT BRITAIN’s famous KEW GARDENS and the BOTANIC GARDENS in Jamaica. Surely, WE CAN SPREAD THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY BOTANIC GARDENS IDEAL AND DESIGN TO OUR OTHER POPULATION CENTERS IN SVG?

    Forward to our national Agri-educational Centers of Excellence in SVG. No less memorial would be fitting as authentic celebrations of our ST.VINCENT BOTANIC GARDENS’ 250th Anniversary founding. This from the mouth of a direct descendent of former curators.

    With such a serious dearth for national goals and objectives, we ought to take a good look at embracing a FULL NATION-WIDE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME of a more natural agricultural research, agricultural development and agricultural education orientation. Such programme MUST of necessity be unforced, uncoerced, and non-mandatory. It must be ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY.

    There should be NO PAROCHIALISM, POLITICAL PARTISANSHIP, ideological subversion, party gimmicks, or self-aggrandisements – – – IF our idealized programme is to work.

    Some 250 years after, it would be a clear national shame for us to neglect re-activating our GLOBAL, yes World-Wide, FAME AND HISTORIC MENTION such as ST. VINCENT achieved in the 18th Century.

    We should, at least, officially and/or ceremonially re-visit TAHITI and give our solemn thanks to the Government and peoples of these Pacific Islanders, East Africans and Indians who were our true historic botanical benefactors.

    Such a SAD occurence that this HISTORIC SVG GLOBALLY-NOTICED MILESTONE has reached us WITHOUT ANY REAL ATTENTION FROM THE CURRENT POLITICAL DIRECTORATE.

    SVG – – – THIS is ONE AREA above several others IN WHICH WE CAUGHT THE IMAGINATION AND NOTICE OF THE WHOLE WORLD – – – in the 1700s and early 1800s.
    Let us strategically CAPITALIZE ON THIS DOCUMENTED CASE OF VINCENTIAN EXCELLENCE.

    Quo Vadis, renowned HAIROUNA, State of ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES.

    May we CHOOSE WISELY and RETURN TO OUR LITERAL NATIONAL SVG ROOTS.

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