Found within the broad campus of the University of Papua New Guinea, the National Capital Botanical Gardens is a one of the most popular tourist destination in Papua New Guinea.
In 1971, Andre Millar initiated the gardens using 25 hectares of land. To this date, several of her groundbreaking work can still attest to her skills and genius, such as the large rainforest area that remains an extremely uncommon sight for the usual dry and dusty capital of Port Moresby. The gardens were originally established as a teaching garden for the university’s Biology Department as well as a nursery to supply plants for the school’s grounds.
When Mrs. Millar left during the latter part of the 1970s, the garden experienced management and funding problems. The garden then turned from a once-beautiful garden to an isolated piece of bush land. But in 1993, the National Capital District Commission took over the assets of the garden and turned it into a major development program.
The National Capital Botanical Gardens has a vast collection of plants from not only all over the country, but from all over the world. These include palms species, bamboos, cordyline, heliconias, pandanus, native trees and shrubs. The garden is well known for its extensive collection of Papua New Guinean orchid species placed in huge greenhouses. Orchid hybrids are well kept in the garden producing cut flowers for their own flower shop.
In addition to keeping orchids, an orchid research centre was established where a small herbarium and a fully equipped orchid tissue culture laboratory are present. Thousands of orchid species and hybrids are then produced using seed and tissue culture from the research center.
Aside from a great collection of plants and flowers, a number of animals are also kept in the garden such as tree-climbing kangaroos, gouria pigeons and a wide range of birds such as cockatoos, lorikeets and parrots. The garden is also home to one of the largest snakes in captivity, the reticulated python of 19-feet from Malaysia.
The botanical garden collection is the only place in the city that offers education with a more in-depth appreciation of the country’s flora and fauna. It remains a valuable resource for environmental and scientific education for many school children as it offers educational tours that cover a variety of subjects relevant to garden environments and settings.
The walking tour begins with the captive snake house, the palm species collection, a display of various birds and animals, the mini rainforest, the timber tree variety, the vanilla collection, the orchid nursery, and finally the insects display. The tour takes about two hours to complete depending on the theme of visit.
The garden is not only an educational visiting area for school children but can also serve as a highly informative experience for tourists of Papua New Guinea. The garden is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. A visit to the National Capital Botanical Gardens will encourage a responsible attitude towards the environment and will help guests further appreciate the remarkable beauty of the country’s natural heritage and resources.