September 6, 2006
Here is a bit of the description from their website.
"Lankester Gardens has a world class collection of nearly a thousand varieties of orchids displayed at eye level. The huge number of plants means you can see blooms year round, although Feb. through April is the most spectacular time to visit. The 26 acres of gardens are home to nearly 3,000 species in all."
"Orchids are surprisingly difficult to see in the wild. Even with a qualified guide you'd be lucky to spot a dozen during a full day in the forest. The majority are epiphytic, growing high in the canopy on trunks, branches or in crotches out of sight. Additionally, many are rather mundane until they flower, and might only flower for a day or two a year. The same is true for many of the other interesting epiphytes in Costa Rica. Fortunately Lankester Gardens has a world class collection of nearly a thousand varieties displayed at eye level, and the huge number of plants means it's likely that hundreds will be blooming when you visit."
Because of our short time in the gardens, I majored on the orchids. Lankester Gardens is also famous for its collection of bromeliads, t he family of which the pineapple is a member. I was surprised the find the beautiful bloom below on a plant that looks to me like a bromeliad.
While there is no question which family of plants steals the show at the garden, there are several other important collections. Many people are surprised to discover that cacti and other succulents are common in Costa Rica. Many species are from the Tropical dry forests of Guanacaste. Others thrive in the treetops where constant drying winds, scorching sun, and the lack of soil to trap rainwater create an unexpectedly arid environment.
Other families that are well represented in the garden are palms, bamboos, heliconias, bromeliads, palms, and conifers. The surrounding tropical premontane forest is some of the best preserved in the area, and attract animals, birds, and insects to this protected haven. Hummingbirds in particular frequent the garden, and especially the nectar rich flowers in the butterfly enclosure.
Hours: open at 9:00 a.m. with last entry at 3:30 p.m. daily except for the Easter holidays, Christmas & New Years day.
Weather:Lankester Gardens are in the Central Valley of Costa Rica which has been said to have the best weather in the world. Appropriately for a garden, it's perpetually spring, with temperatures in the 70's and afternoon showers.
Size:26.5 acres (10.7 hectares, 1/30th the size of central park, NYC)
Elevation:4,498 feet (1,371 meters)
Established:The gardens were established by British orchid enthusiast Charles Lankester West in 1917. In 1973 his family donated the plants, and the American Orchid Society, and the Stanley Smith Foundation (U.K.) purchased the grounds and donated them to the University of Costa Rica to perpetuate for research, and the enjoyment of the public.
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