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Castleton Botanical Gardens

Castleton, St. Mary  

Castleton Botanical Gardens, St. Mary

Castleton Botanical Gardens are located on the "Junction" road linking Kingston to Annotto Bay. The grounds make for a great stop off when travelling between the city and the north coast. Castleton Gardens boast hundreds of species of indigenous and imported flora and attracts a wide variety of bird life. The gardens are set in 15 acres of a mountain valley, straddling both sides of the Junction road, the eastern half is bound by a gentle section of the Wag River which is accessible for paddling and swimming.

Castleton Botanical Gardens was established on 19 November 1862 on the site of a sugar plantation owned by the English planter, Colonel Castle. Jamaica's main botanical gardens were originally located in Bath, St. Thomas but were relocated to this location because the constant floods of the nearby sulphuric river were adversely affecting the plant life (the remains of the Bath Botanical Gardens are still open to the public). In 1869 Colonel Castle gifted the gardens to the government of Jamaica.

Many species of plant life were transplanted to Castleton Gardens from Bath, along with 4000 species from Kew Gardens in London. Before long Castleton became the greatest botanical gardens in the Caribbean. At one time there were around 180 species of palm in the Palmetum, nowadays there are around 25. Many of Jamaica's beloved plant species (including the Bombay Mango and Tangerines) were first introduces to Jamaica at Castleton Gardens.

Outside the entrance to the grounds (on the main road, opposite the police station) a range of food vendors have stalls set out. Make sure you stop here to sample the excellent janga (crayfish) soup, roast corn and jelly coconut.

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