The duPlooy Story
by Judy duPlooy
Just before Christmas in 1987, Ken and I loaded our five children and dog into our Suburban and left our home, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina and headed for Belize.
After an adventurous road trip through Mexico, (try this with 2 teenagers, a pre-teen and 2 preschoolers, all girls!), we found ourselves in San Ignacio, a quaint town in Western Belize, known locally as “Cayo”.
We weren’t use to so much rain and driving on dirt roads and so after getting stuck in the mud 4 times on the same day, we took this as a sign that Cayo was the place for us and we should start looking for a house. At this point we had been in Belize for 3 days.
So from San Ignacio, we drove for six miles on the unpaved “Benque highway” and 4 more miles on a very rough road and somehow managed to find the isolated 20 acre, river-front-farm property, that some new friends had told us about the previous day.
As we made our way down to the Macal River we were just in awe of the majestic limestone bluff facing us, along with the beauty of the river and large sandy beach area.
So without any hesitation we set out to look for the owner and ended up signing a contract without having a proper survey done (not recommended) and ignoring the fact that the farm had no running water and only a small rainwater collection tank, not nearly enough for a family of 7 … and no electricity …
Continue The duPlooy Story
Belize Botanic Gardens – 1993
The construction of the Botanic Gardens is thanks to Ken. He realized early on that he needed something to keep him out of a house filled with 6 women and so he began to dabble in “gardening”. Several thousand plants later it was decided that something had to be done to justify his new “hobby”. So in 1993, in consultation with Brendan Sayers from the National Botanic Garden at Glasnevin, Dublin, 45 acres located next to the jungle lodge, that we had purchased back in 1987, was officially designated as the “Belize Botanic Gardens”.
This non-profit entity was, at the time, the only botanic garden in Belize and today it continues to be the largest.
Despite fighting heart disease for many years Ken worked enthusiastically in the garden until his death in August 2001. His ability to tell wildly exaggerated tales is still much missed by those who knew him.
Belize Botanic Gardens – Today
We’ll just skip a few years and lots of stories and see what’s happening now. In 2018 the jungle lodge was sold with the idea of my being able to devote more time and effort to realize the Gardens’ potential.
As a result, a number of changes have been made. New Learning Programs for Belize Students have been developed and a number of areas in the Garden have been enhanced, including the addition of the all new Palm area.
We have recently built a new front-office, an 8-Room Guest House and reworked the Visitors Center to compliment our Study Abroad in Belize program for international students. This includes adding a kitchen area and outdoor wood-burning fogón, where tasty home-cooked meals are prepared.
Garden Related Services
At both BBG and the Garden Shop in San Ignacio, which opened in 2015, we offer landscape consultation, along with the sale and installation of plants, fruit trees, soil mixes, coconut-fiber mulches and organic fertilizers & pesticides.
In 2017, realizing there is a growing market in Belize for health products, we’ve added organic health foods, lotions and potions and other health related products to our inventory at the Shop.