Meet Robert Price
Meet Bob Price, founder and curator, Mexico’s Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
Bob Price plan was to conserve Mexico’s unique flora and birdlife and the Vallarta Botanical Gardens he founded to help achieve that were recently included on the list of Top Ten Public Gardens in America you should visit.
Meet Bob Price, founder and curator, Mexico’s Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Photo - Linda Ross
Why did you leave the USA and start a botanic garden?
I left the US because I was looking for new experiences after selling the restaurant I owned and managed for 15 years. I have long travelled in Mexico and always loved the people, the culture, the food, the nature. It was exciting to move here in 2004.
Military macaw. Photo - Whipsnade Zoo
How did the garden come about?
When I moved here I did not know I was going to start a garden. The idea came to me one day while hiking in the Sierra Madre mountains. I was looking at all the varieties of wild plants and wondered why there wasn’t a botanical garden in Puerto Vallarta. I was also concerned with the activities of poachers. They were taking huge numbers of orchids from the mountains and trapping military macaws in the nearby jungles to sell commercially.
Nesting boxes for the Military macaw. Photo - Linda Ross
So how did the plan develop?
I wanted a place where orchids could be propagated and displayed without depleting the local populations. So the Gardens is 20 acres of unique dry tropical forest ecosystem. We have miles of hiking trails through the mountains so visitors can look at plants in the wild, as well as manicured areas of garden.
Vallarta Botanic Gardens from the top of the hill.
What does a normal day entail for you?
There is really no such thing as a normal day, however I do have a management routine since we have a restaurant and gift shop at the gardens. A good day is when I actually put my hands into the earth. I make time for it every day and when I can’t work in the garden, I will be in a bad mood (beware!). We have 25 employees keeping it all going, and I work with them in the gardens and restaurant.
Vallarta Botanic Gardens restaurant. Home of the best margaritas in all of Mexico! Photo - Linda Ross
Do you have a favourite group of plants?
I don’t have a favourite plant group, I love them all, well mostly. I detest weeds in my flowerbeds and I got that poison euphorbia juice in my eye the other day that made me pretty mad, but I really love plants, they bring me much joy!
"I don’t have a favourite plant group, I love them all....well, mostly". Photo - Linda Ross
What have you planned for the future of the gardens?
We hope to build a new cactus house in 2016 and we are acquiring more property to enlarge the garden. The new part will remain part of our protected forested area. We’re also forming a foundation that will own the garden when I’m not here so it can continue. As well we are always working on improving our collection of native plants. Never a dull moment!
Cacao, vanilla, Begonia stigmosa, Cyathias, palms, an enormous variety of natives and exotics. Photo - Linda Ross
Meet Bob and spend some time in his beautiful Gardens on our garden tour of Mexico in November 2017.
The Vallarta Botanic Gardens orchidarium