The history of the Lankester Botanical Garden dates back to the 1940s when the British naturalist Charles H. Lankester was interested in the cultivation and study of the epiphytic plants of Costa Rica. As an amateur botanist, he collaborated with the most outstanding orchidologists of the time and dedicated his life to the creation of a private garden on his farm. After his death the importance of preserving his garden was evident.
Through the joint efforts of the American Orchid Society and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, the “Don Carlos” garden was donated to the University of Costa Rica on March 2, 1973, with the commitment to transform it into a botanical garden. Since then with the dedication and much effort of scientists and conservationists, the Lankester Botanical Garden has become one of the most active and important research centers in the region.
The garden has two sides. On one side you have the research work that takes place and on the other side you have the exhibition of the flora. The research ground is a garden that can be visited by everyone. Their mission is the research of orchids and other epiphytes, to preserve our planet’s biological diversity, and to inspire and improve people’s quality of life. Part of their mission is getting achieved because thanks to the biodiversity the air in the cities is much cleaner compared to other places. The scientific activities of the Lankester Botanical gardens include the Mesoamerica and the Andean Region botanical exploration, systematic studies, production of floras for national parks, research on ecology, biology pollination of the orchids, evaluation of populations of endangered species, orchid micropropagation, and germination studies.
Researchers at Lankester Botanical Garden regularly publish their investigation in internationally recognized journals. They also give conferences on topics related to their investigations in internationally recognized journals and published the international orchid journal “Lankesteriana” and established the worldwide orchid information network “Epidendra”.
With almost 27 acres of extension, the Lankester Botanical Gardens cultivate more than 3000 species of plans and is home of many other species of native birds, butterflies, and other small animals. Visitors are able to enjoy the Garden that has eight different sections: The Orchids, The Japanese Garden, The Secondary Forrest, The Cacti and Succulents, The Ferns, The Zingiberales, The Bromelias, and The Palms section.
With approximately 30,000 species, the orchids are the largest and diverse plant family in the world. Most of its species are epiphytes which grow on trees without causing them any harm. With about 1500 species, the orchid diversity in Costa Rica is huge. In the greenhouse, they grow over 18000 orchids belonging to more than 1000 species from different parts of the world. Most of the orchids are in bloom once a year, so every month there are different species in bloom including miniature orchids.
The simplicity of its design is one of its main features. The most important element in this garden is its rocks. Other elements of symbolism are water, the red bridge, the zig-zag bridge, and the stone lamps. The design of this garden was made by Japanese landscapers and its construction was supervised by Japanese gardeners. The bamboo collection has over forty species. This part of the garden is extremely peaceful and serene. You can sit for hours hearing the running waters, there is a small river that goes through the garden, and breathe fresh air.
This forest has naturally regenerated since 1973. It occupies more than half of the Lankester Botanical Garden and has a variety of tropical plants, most of them native to the central valley of Costa Rica, although there are some exotic species. Over time this forest has become a lung to the surrounding areas and a home for many animal species for which the country is very proud to protect.
CACTI AND SUCCULENTS
Cacti and Succulents share the ability to live, permanently or temporarily in dry environments or high temperatures. That is why they represent characteristics like thick leaves or leaves that have transformed into horns and stems that store water. In the garden, you can observe the similarity between cacti from the American continent and the euphorbia from the African continent. In addition, there are also samples of epiphytic cacti native to the rainforest of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has approximately 1200 species of ferns. The main characteristic of this plant is its coiled and twisted leaves and it presents one reproductive phase by spores and the other by gametes. Most of these species grow in tropical rain forests and they are very sensitive to global warming. The ferns with a rhizome on the stem are called arborescent and can be observed in the garden.
Zingiberales consists of eight families of tropical plants. The main characteristic of these plants is the structure of its flowers and the typical form of its leaves. Among their members, we can find heliconias, gingers, birds of paradise, bananas, and traveler’s palms.
In the garden, there are about 2500 native species in the bromeliad family from the American continent, and one from the African continent. The bromeliads are characterized by their leaves in the form of rosettes and their colorful flowers and bracts. In Costa Rica, there are about 200 native species and in the Lankester Garden, they thrive due to the weather conditions. Most of the species are epiphytic, although some are terrestrial like the pineapple.
Palms are tropical plants of great importance, as ornamentals, food sources, oils, fibers, and building materials. The pejivalle can be observed that has a delicious fruit available for sale locally, and various ornamental plants.
A visit to the garden can be the perfect stop during a busy schedule to learn more about nature as well as taking some time to enjoy its beauty. But in order to maintain it open and available for new and recurring visitors, please keep it clean during your visit. There are trash bins by the end of the exploration where you can deposit your trash. Please make it a habit to keep it clean wherever you go. Taking care of the environment should be on our priority list.
Interested in a virtual Tour to get you in the mood? Take a look here