Belize Botanic Gardens was a 45 acre cattle pasture in 1993 when the land was purchased by Ken duPlooy, an amateur botanist and his wife, Judy. ( see www.duplooys.com for more about the duPlooy family and duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge)
A keen interest in restoring this severely eroded land and Ken’s love of orchids and palms led him to start collecting these plants for conservation purposes.
Belize’s main commercial fruits were, and still are, bananas and citrus. High taxes, expensive fuel and imported tools and machinery make it expensive to compete on world agriculture markets so Ken’s plan was to begin experimenting with tropical fruits which could be grown organically and command higher prices on the market.
Plants were collected and recorded so in 1997 when Brendan Sayers from the Irish National Garden came along to collect Belizean orchids and palms for Ireland the first collaboration with another garden began. Brendan noted that Belize did not have a botanic garden and suggested that we register as Belize Botanic Gardens. A Board of Directors was established and the garden registered with the Government of Belize as a non-profit organization. Since then BBG has been collecting, studying, cataloging and conserving plants and remains the only botanic garden in Belize.
BBG exists to serve as gardens and educational grounds for Belizeans and Visitors to enjoy and take advantage of, as well as a scientific and living germplasm resource pool for botanical and horticultural institutions world-wide. The focus of our collections is native and exotic plants of Belize, as well as non-native and non-invasive plant species. We strive to educate local communities and international visitors of the importance of protecting native plants and ecosystems.
Ken died in August of 2001 and daughter Heather and her husband, Brett ran the garden until 2010 when they left to work at Naples Botanical Garden in Florida. In 2012, Judy stepped in as Director of the gardens and secured funding from the European Union’s Belize Rurual Development Project to start a program to train landscape gardeners (LINK) BBG has become a dynamic recognized organization with the assistance of a dedicated team of hardworking individuals who make up our staff.Daughter Shayla recently returned to Belize to become the Garden Administrator.