Dear Friends of the Gardens,
We were happy to receive your many congratulatory messages about our recent recognition as a “TOP 10 North American Garden Worth Travelling For in 2013.” We are very proud of this award through the Canadian Garden Tourism Council, which was announced March 19 at the Garden Tourism Conference and presented at the VBG on March 26.
Here are the other nine award-winning gardens:
- Atlanta Botanical Garden – Atlanta, Georgia, USA
- The Butchart Gardens – Victoria, B. C., CAN
- Chanticleer Garden – Wayne, PA, USA
- Filoli – Woodside, CA, USA
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – Richmond, VA, USA
- Missouri Botanical Garden – St Louis, MO, USA
- Montreal Botanical Garden – Montreal, QC, Canada
- Portland Japanese Garden – Portland, OR, USA
- Springs Preserve – Las Vegas, NV, USA
We hope that the recognition will help boost tourism in our beloved Vallarta region. Businesses such as hotels, restaurants, shops and tour operations may use the images provided on our press pages at www.vbgardens.org/press (English) or www.vbgardens.org/es/prensa (Spanish).
Now is an excellent time for area businesses to align themselves strategically with our organization for mutual support and cross-promotion. Small businesses may join us at the Copa de Oro membership level ($6,500 pesos per year); larger ones might choose to be corporate sponsors ($25,000 pesos per year).
We’re also happy to report that the 2013 Vallarta Bird Festival was a great success! More than 50 participants joined us during the four-day event (March 7–11). And those lucky birders observed more than 200 individual species within the grounds of the Gardens and in adjacent areas. (Our highly biodiverse area of western Mexico boasts almost 400 different species of tropical and migratory birds!) A special thank-you goes to our festival organizers, who managed to create birding memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Please celebrate with us at the Gardens on May 15, International Hummingbird Day, because this is the peak of our hummingbird-observation period.
Despite sensationalist media reports to the contrary, Mexico remains a safe and beautiful country to visit. To those of you in Puerto Vallarta, please come up and visit us soon; to those of you in other places, keep Mexico in your hearts . . . and remember, we’re worth traveling for!
From the Gardens,
Bob Price, Curator and Founder
Wrapping Up the Season
As we shift into the summer season, please keep in mind that the Gardens will be closed on Mondays beginning April 1. We will also be closed for the entire month of September.
A special thank-you goes to all of our wonderful volunteers of the 2012–2013 season!
We would especially like to acknowledge…
- Katherine Ann Campbell
- Pamela Evans
- Anne-Marie Haynes
- Angélica Hernández Ramos
- Beverley Layton
- Jean Lindsay
- Ken Plante
- Marita Rathnow
- Ann Savio
- Walter Scott
- Lisa Wallace
And The Winner Is…
On March 29 a raffle drawing was held for a prize travel-destination: “A Beach and Botanic Vacation.”
If you’ve never visited that beautiful seaside garden, here’s your chance to win a trip for two that includes round-trip airfare and three nights of luxury accommodations, a private after-hours tour of the Garden and dinner with its Executive Director.
Cindy Begley won the Santa Barbara Grand prize in the raffle and she has graciously donated it back for a Puerto Vallarta resident to win. We are proud to announce that a guest of the Gardens, Patricia Juin, has received the prize.
Thanks for your support and thank you Cindy for your kind gesture!!
Peace Garden Grant for the VBG
The Vallarta Botanical Gardens have been selected as a winner of the 2013 Muhammad Ali Center Peace Garden Grant. The grant will specifically fund further educational programs at our Gardens and demonstrates yet again how our efforts toward fostering peace, beauty and education are recognized by the international community.
Tropical Gardening Q & A
I have a small aloe vera plant that I’d like to use directly for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. What parts do I use, and how can I propagate more plants?
Aloe vera, sometimes called “first aid plant” or “burn aloe,” has been used for some 6,000 years to treat (topically) burns and abrasions and (internally) constipation and digestive disorders. Recent products containing the gel or the processed juice promise to treat mild burns, canker sores, psoriasis, sunburn, dandruff and countless other conditions. But despite the plant’s lengthy pedigree, science has not often verified its effectiveness—so be aware that you’re experimenting. Asking a local campesino (country person) how to use sábila will produce a shower of advice—including how to strengthen your hair by shampooing with the gel!
For topical use—which is all we recommend trying with your plant—you can cut off a whole or partial outer leaf and drain/squeeze out the gel, or you can score a leaf and tie it as a “gel pack” over swollen or abraded flesh. Be forewarned: the smell is unpleasant! And some people find the gel to be a skin irritant.
Your small plant may not yet have produced its distinctive greenish yellow flower spike; that comes with maturity. Older plants will also propagate themselves on their own: small offsets will form around a “mother” plant and can be detached to replant. Always plant them in pots with excellent drainage or site them in a sandy part of the garden with good runoff. In our sundrenched locales they may need some afternoon shade—especially in pots—and they must never be allowed to become waterlogged during the rainy season.
To submit your gardening or botanical questions, simply send an e-mail to [email protected] with “Q&A” in your subject line.
Mexican Orchid of the Month
This hot-growing miniature epiphyte or lithophyte can be found under dry-forest scrub along our coastal region among cacti and small trees. In cultivation it grows best when mounted on small bark-covered branches and given water only during its active growth period. The long, beautiful inflorescences, which bloom in late fall and winter, should be left intact, as they might rebloom. (Many thanks to Vallarta Orchid Society President T. J. Hartung for permission to draw on information from his publication “Orchids Found ONLY in Mexico,” available in the Gardens’ gift store.)
We continue to seek sponsors for the Conservatory for the National Collection of Mexican Orchids; please click here to donate today!
An artist’s sketch of our much-anticipated Orchid Conservatory:
Puerto Vallarta, Orchid Graveyard
Mexico, one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, boasts well over 1,200 different native orchid species. More than 200 have been recorded in the state of Jalisco alone, and of those many are found in the jungles and highlands around Puerto Vallarta. Sadly, many of these natives are under near-constant attack and are being plundered—to the point of extinction—and brazenly sold in a thriving black market for illegally collected wildlife.
Fueling this totally preventable and catastrophic orchid extinction are both the native Mexican and expat communities here, who provide a customer base for unscrupulous poachers of endangered plants and wildlife.
Although it may be tempting to buy orchids cheaply from street vendors, please bear in mind that such purchases are not only illegal but highly unethical, as they diminish our local biodiversity and natural splendor. Also be aware that the majority of orchids taken from the wild are doomed to slowly languish and die in dark, airless corners of homes, shops, bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, dead and dying wild-collected orchids are readily seen today all around Puerto Vallarta.
Recently we learned that at least two organized groups of orchid poachers were working Old Town, selling from car trunks and backs of pickup trucks in the area of Basilio Badillo and Olas Altas; others were sighted in the Marina area. These people collect wild orchids by the hundreds by trespassing on private property and by robbing natural areas, stripping and gathering for sale entire populations. An environmental tipping point is now rapidly approaching, when native orchids that have been severely depleted will not remain self-sustaining.
Preserving our area´s biodiversity—its plants and animals—here in our beloved Mexico is everyone’s responsibility. No environmentally responsible person should ever buy illegally collected wildlife such as wild parrots or native orchids. Please do not play a role in the extinction of Puerto Vallarta’s native orchids. Never buy them from street vendors; instead, become an ambassador for Mexico´s native wildlife by telling others not to buy them. Cultivated orchids can be found for sale in many places around town. If you wish to collect orchids, please do so responsibly.
When was the last time you took the time to celebrate the gifts of our wonderful host, planet Earth? Considering what it provides to us humans, and how our heedless activities are changing the environment, spending a little time celebrating our planet is only right. So join us in planting a tree or by learning more about the gifts and treasures of our forests on this special day.
For more information, please call the Gardens at 322-223-6182 or e-mail [email protected].
–Henry David Thoreau
Vanilla Blossom Expo
Month of April
The Garden’s vanilla vines bloom in April! Visit us to learn more about this culinarily and culturally important native orchid. Our daily 1 pm tours will focus on this plant during April. This is the best time to watch our horticultural staff performing the hand-pollination technique needed to produce vanilla pods (commonly referred to as vanilla beans). Learn with us about the unique nature of this savory Mexican plant.
Garden Amenities and Services
Visit the Gardens’ Hacienda de Oro Restaurant for authentic Mexican food and brick-oven pizza. Our new menu includes delicious dishes such as fish and shrimp tacos. Hike the Gardens’ nature trails and bask in tropical mountain scenery. Experience the Orchid Conservatory, Gift Shop, plant nursery, tequila tasting and more. You can even shop the Gardens remotely through our online store. The very best of Vallarta!
Please Become a Member or Renew Your Membership
Become part of the family that preserves this important sanctuary forever!
Become a member today. Click here for more information: Memberships.
We Would Like to Acknowledge Our Trustees
and Copa de Oro Sponsors for Their Ongoing Support
of the Vallarta Botanical Gardens:
Gary and Susan Adamson
Allen and Patricia Bickell
Barry Briskin and Dr. Susannah Briskin
Christopher Davidson and Sharon Christoph
The Galeana Family
The Holstein Family
Dr. Charles and Judith Silberstein
Barbarita and Bob Sypult
COPA DE ORO MEMBERS:
Jim and Kimberley Bennett
The McCall Family
Dr James Manne
Marcelo Mico Pilates
Carl Timothy Real Estate Group
AJ Van Horn
Devin and Ellen Zagory
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Raymuncho ‘Ray’ Careme
T. J. Hartung
Dr. Justin Williams
We Also Thank the Following Foundations for Their Recent Support:
Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation
Charles H. Stout Foundation
Muhammad Ali Peace Center Garden Grant
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The Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Your Best Vacation Value!
Spend the day in the Gardens for only $60 pesos.
Located 30 minutes south of Old Town, Puerto Vallarta, on Carretera a Barra Navidad at km 24, just past Las Juntas y Los Veranos.
Telephone (322) 223-6182
Open from 9 am to 5 pm