In December of 1987, Ken duPlooy, his wife Judy and five daughters (originally of Zimbabwe and Maryland) moved to the country of Belize and purchased land previously cleared for cattle farming near the banks of the beautiful Macal River. Nine months later, in December 1988, duPlooy’s opened with 6 Jungle Lodge rooms and a dining room/bar building which is now called “duPlooys Jungle Lodge“
In 1994, Ken purchased 45 acres of cattle pasture adjacent to their resort as a personal re-greening project and as an appreciation for the birds and wildlife of the area. They began planting organic fruit trees, ornamental plants for enjoyment purposes, and native species of orchids in need of research and conservation attention.
Ken was at the age of 47 when he began this dabbling landscaping project before which he had only ever managed to raise a rubber tree plant and his five daughters. Anyone familiar with gardening in the tropics knows that the growth rate of tropical plants can be quite stimulating to the novice. Ken was no exception. Heady with the variety of the flora and the fact that it grew by leaps and bounds, Ken was soon transformed into an amateur botanist. He wasted no time in turning the vegetative wasteland into a giant field covered with sticks holding up horse feed sacks. His family was furious until they discovered that under each sack was a young plant being protected from the sunshine until ready for exposure to the elements. Ken valued plants, especially the tropical fruit trees which is of economical importance to Belize.
From ever since, the Gardens keeps growing and growing mainly for the appreciation of birds and other wildlife in connection with the variety of undomesticated and cultivated plants in need of research and conservation. The Gardens has grown to an extent that it gained popularity amongst local and international individuals, researchers, botanists and other botanic gardens. A Board of Directors was established and the gardens was registered as “Belize Botanic Gardens” as a not-for-profit organization in 1997. Since then Belize Botanic Gardens has been collecting, studying, cataloguing and conserving plants and it remains the only botanic garden within Belize.
Ken died in August of 2001 and his presence is still greatly missed. Judy, the co-founder and backbone of the botanic garden, continues to direct the path of the Gardens and she has grown it into a dynamic recognized organization. Judy is fortunate to be assisted by an amazing team of hardworking individuals that make up the staff of the Belize Botanic Gardens and the Board of Directors.