Shaw Park botanical gardens
There are several private gardens in Jamaica open to the public. I recently visited two with my Swiss friend; Hope Gardens in Kingston and Shaw Park garden in Ocho Rios. Coincidentally we visited both on Sundays and found them surprisingly quiet in terms of visitors. Lying at approximately 900 feet about sea level, Shaw Park garden spreads across several acres on a fairly steep hill. It’s a delightful place offering not only a huge variety of flowers and fauna but also lovely panoramic views of the town and harbour. The park guides are good at pointing out plants visitors might otherwise overlook. They don’t always use the plants’ botanical names, but amusing, apt names such as Cat’s whiskers, Cat’s Tail or Shame Old Lady. The Banyan trees are impressive fixtures that compete with the majestic Cuban Palm trees for prominence in the garden. One of the former is over 200 years old! While the design and layout of the property are not altogether clear, it is nonetheless pleasing and engaging; a good place to have a picnic and pass the time. Shaw Park’s management rents the gardens as a venue for weddings and other outdoor events. My favourite section was by the waterfalls, which on a hot day offer a cool respite.
If you are driving, the road leading to the park is circuitous and may be damaged in places because of the frequent heavy rainfalls and steep incline. Don’t be discouraged for the park more than makes up for any inconvenience you might experience on your way there.
By Denise and photos by Susan C.