About 15 miles from San Jose, in the Costa Rican province of Cartago, there is an orchid paradise that will stun you with its beauty. Developed by a British entrepreneur and self-made botanist, the Lankester Botanical Garden is an essential stop during a trip to the Central American nation.
Here’s more on the history and characteristics of this magical place that you don’t want to miss.
El jardin de Don Carlos
Charles Lankester first arrived in Costa Rica in 1900, hired by a British coffee company. In time, he bought some land and founded his very own coffee farm, which was very successful for many years. The country itself became a home for the Englishman, who would live on-and-off in it for many years to come.
In the early 1920s, he became interested in the various species of orchids that populated Costa Rica and began collecting them. He exchanged information with several orchid specialists around the world and dedicated the last portion of his life to building a garden that would gather the beauty of this native plants.
After a while, the garden grew and expanded to include many other species, not only of orchids but from other families of plants as well. It was open to the public and became known as “el jardín de don Carlos”. After the death of Charles Lankester in 1969, the garden was donated to the University of Costa Rica, who continued to expand it and turned into a research center for Costa Rica’s botanical biodiversity.
One colorful labyrinth
The Lankester Botanical Garden is home to over 1,000 species of orchids, 20% of them are endemic, which means they are exclusive to this area. In its native orchids area, you will find species like the Cattleya dowiana, considered to be one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, and the Purple Guaria, Costa Rica’s national flower.
At the exotic orchids section grow orchids from around the world, mostly South America and Southeast Asia. A highlight of this section is the Tiger Orchid, known to be the largest orchid in the world –the flower is anything from 40 to 50 inches wide! At the fascinating miniature orchid area, you will see orchids tinier than you thought was possible.
But it’s not only about the orchids. There are also bromeliad, cacti and succulent, heliconias, bamboo and palm sections, as well as an area for other non-orchid species that are native to Costa Rica. All in all, it is a colorful labyrinth that you will be delighted to become lost in for a while. At some point during the journey, you will find a lovely Japanese garden, perfect for a mindful break.
A preservation sanctuary
There is also the scientific side of the garden, perhaps less noticed, but just as important. The mission of the research center is to study epiphytes with the intention of preserving the planet’s biodiversity, as well as inspiring people and improving their quality of life.
Scientific activities at the site include: the botanical exploration of the Americas, ecological research, orchid pollination studies, evaluation of endangered species and many more. The resident scientists frequently publish the result of these investigations in renown magazines and speak around the world on the subject.
Explore the Lankester Botanical Garden during your next trip to Costa Rica and remember to book a room at City Express San Jose, not only are we right next to the airport but we can hook you up with transportation services that will take you to nearby locations like the garden. See you there!