A Botanical and Cultural Garden Blooms in Caguas
3/23 The gardens are open to the general public again
Puerto Rico is rich in history and culture. It also has a perfect climate to grow some of the prettiest flowers and plants imaginable. Caguas decided to put these things together and opened the Botanical and Cultural Garden (Jardin Botanico y Cultural) in April 2007. In September , 2010 it was renamed William Miranda Marín Botanical & Cultural Garden after a much loved mayor.
Caguas is a small city located abut 30 minutes south of San Juan. The garden itself is situated on 60 acres, on the grounds of a former sugar mill. The Botanical and Cultural Garden of Caguas is a thematic park designed to educate the public on the Puerto Rican culture in relation to nature and tropical agriculture. This is a large park. It has many paths that let you meander. Note that the paths are gravel, not paved, so it’s not too easy to use a wheelchair or stroller. There are many "special" areas designed to highlight aspects of Puerto Rican heritage and culture.
Probably the prettiest area is by the remains of the sugar mill. There are many beautiful large old trees and plantings. It has been vacant for years and as you walk around, you see how nature is taking over the ruins of the mill, making it a thing of beauty. The chimney of the refinery and many sugar cauldrons are there. Also, the foundations of the factory can be seen.
My favorite area is the reproduction of an old country house and kitchen garden. This is what many Puerto Rican people remember as grandfathers house or a typical Jibaro (poor country folk) house. It is simple wooden structure, with a large garden to help feed the family. If you go off the beaten path and up through the Puerto Rican countryside, you will still see a few of these houses, or similar ones, many in ruins and some still being used today. (11/15- on a recent visit this garden area was neglected a bit, hopefully they will replant it soon). The first time we went to this garden, we met some wonderful older Puerto Rican women who walked us around this area and explained each of the vegetables/herbs and about what it was like living in one of these houses. It was extremely interesting to get a first hand account.
They have some other areas where they highlight some of the influences that make up the Puerto Rican culture: the Taino Indian area and the African area. The Taino Indian area has replicas and sculptures of the indigenous people and their stone petroglyphs. It also has indigenous plantings. The African area has some fantastic sculptures and plants from many zones of Africa.
There is also an area where they have planted many trees in danger of extinction, to help protect them and to educate people of the importance of conservation of our natural resources. The garden has been planted with various flowering plants like heliconias, bromeliads, orchids and gingers. It also has an area of palms and another of fruit trees. There is an orchidarium (orchid house), displaying a number of blooming orchids. There are a few lovely ponds, some with water lilies, some large enough to have peddle boats you can rent (on weekends). There is also a stage in this pond where they hold many great concerts.
This is a younger garden, so many of the trees are still small. But it is worth a visit if you are in the area.
There are clean bathrooms, a gift shop, book store, a food stand and sometimes a cart selling plants. There are sometimes Pedal boats available in the “lake” $3 for 15 mins. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and sunscreen. No outside food not drinks permitted in, so no picnics. There is a restaurant in the park. And ps- they are dog friendly! They do ask you to wear a mask when doing ticket purchases or when dealing with park personnel.
Admission fee for the garden is $5 for adults and kids over 12, $3.00 for kids 3-12 years old and seniors (60+) are $4. Kids under 2 years old are free. Note- through out the year they have special events that may be an additional cost.
The garden is open 10:00am to 3:00pm Wednesday- Friday, Sat and Sunday 10am -4pm.
Allow a minimum of 2 hours to visit the garden. Allow more time if they’re hosting a special event.
You can call the garden at 787-653-0470 to get more information.
They hand out a bi-lingual map. They also offer guided tram tours of the garden for an additional fee. The tram tour is about 40 minutes long. They are offered about 4 times throughout the day. They told us they were bi-lingual, but for the guided tram tour in English you might want to try to make a reservation. The additional fee for the tour is $3 per person.
Just outside the garden gates is PARAÍSO DE ARBOLES FRUTALES – a fruit tree nursey. Open Tuesday- Saturdays 9 am- 5pm . Free entrance and parking for this store. For info call Edwin at 787-207-8917 or email@example.com. There is also Jardin Boricua that sells exotic and unusual plants.
Driving directions from the San Juan area – Take Route 18 south to Route 52 south and get off at exit #18 toward Aguas Buenas. At the end of the exit ramp, go to the right onto Road 196. Go until the road tees. The garden will be in front of you, parking is into the garden and to the left. The parking is limited. For regular visits, it is fine. For special events, additional parking is allowed along the street and various other areas.
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