The Making of The Botanical Gardens

Joseph and Martha Murphy came to Nevis with plans to build a home in the Montpelier area in the mid-1990's. They purchased Tim Mosley’s house and land together with some adjoining properties to make an estate of approximately 6.25 acres. In 1996, they decided instead to build and stock a botanical garden.

To realize this exciting project, the Murphys hired horticulturalist Paul Richnow to design and implement their scheme. He was supported by Sandy Littlepage, who specialized on the planting designs and plant signage. The construction work was undertaken by a team of Nevisians including Myron Claxton, Rolston Browne, Noral Lescott, and Nathaniel “Terry” Liburd.  Terry continues to work in the Botanical Gardens today and tells many interesting stories of the Garden’s development.

The graceful design featured terraces and lily ponds, built to complement the natural features and beauty of the land. Bronze fountains and sculptures from Asia were installed as well as a triple copper sugar cauldron fountains from old plantations in Nevis. Containers of tropical plants arrived from all over the world: Australia, New Zealnad, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Central and South America, Hawaii, and Florida in the United States,. The Gardens contain orchid terraces with over 70 species of orchids, a bamboo grove, a small cactus garden, flowering plants and shrubs, and over 100 species of palms. The initial budget of half a million US dollars for plants was stretched, reaching well over eight million US dollars by the time the Botanical Gardens opened in 1998.  Much more has since been expended onthe acquisition of additionl land, plants, and infrastructure.

A large mesh-covered conservatory was erected to house tropical rainforest plants and parrots, styled after the Palm House in the famed Kew Gardens in England. Major features are the large reproduction pre-Columbian Olmec head which forms a dramatic waterfall together with Olmec and Mayan-motif steles. To complete the design, a pretty plantation-style Great House was built in the centre of the Garden to house the eatery and gift shop. The Botanical Gardens were opened with the main building named “Martha’s Tea House” – serving English tea with scones and clotted cream!  It is now the home of the Oasis Thai Restaurant & Lounge, serving delicious authentic Thai cuisine using herbs and flowers freshly grown in the Gardens.

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