Desert bloomers

The new Xerophytic Garden at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is now open to the public, showcasing an array of cacti and succulents.

The garden was created following a fund-raising drive, as highlighted in the Autumn issue of InsideOut magazine, which saw over US$50,000 donated for the attraction.

A generous donor, who has chosen to remain anonymous, gifted the majority of the cash, while funds were also given by other “Friends of the Botanic Park”, the Garden Club of Grand Cayman, along with money from the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park itself.

“We are thrilled to have this new attraction,” says John Lawrus, general manager at the Botanic Park. “The addition of the Xerophytic Garden brings to life another display garden that was originally conceived in 1996 as part of the Botanic Park’s master plan.”

Xerophytic refers to plants that are well suited to dry (xeric) conditions, such as cactus and certain succulents, which may have adapted shapes and forms or internal functions that reduce water loss, or store water during long periods of drought.

This makes them particularly suited to the Cayman Islands where there is little water available, especially during the dry season.

“The ability for the public to view plants up close that they might never have seen before brings another dimension to our wonderful garden which continues to evolve,” says John. 

“Water is one of the most widely used and much needed resources in order for plants to survive and it is also one of the most misused and wasted assets that we have.”

Visitors to the quarter-acre Xerophytic Garden can not only admire cacti and succulents from around the world, but can garner ideas for creating a similar garden at home using beautiful plants which require little maintenance or water.

“The educational component should not be overlooked as this garden demonstrates plants that require low additional water requirements, yet can still be an attractive display,” John points out.

The garden has been divided into geographic regions, with areas marked out by the use of different crushed rocks, stones and pebbles.

For example, Madagascar is indicated by a red rock, with the island referred to as the “Red Island”.

After the two-and-a-half year fund-raising effort, the Xerophytic Garden is not yet fully complete and will be added to as resources allow.

“We still are acquiring and sourcing plants and, in reality, most gardens are never complete, they are constantly being added to and amended as time goes on,” says John.
 

Plants to spot 

  • Anisacanthus quadrifidus (Texas firecracker plant)
  • Agave isthmensis
  • (Dwarf butterfly agave)
  • Pereskia quisqueyana (Bayahibe rose)
  • Consolea rubescens (Roadkill Cactus)
  • Acacia anegadensis (Poke me Boy)
  • Moringa drouhardii (Flour sack tree)
  • Uncarina grandidieri (Mouse trap tree)
  • Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum (Clubfoot)
  • Agave lophanthes (Thorn-Crest Agave)

 

 

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Justin Uzzell & Stephen Clarke