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The Garden was established by Robert and Catherine Wilson, who were former owners of the Fantastic Gardens tropical nursery in Miami, Florida. They emigrated to southern Costa Rica in 1962 and established the botanical garden on what were abandoned coffee plantations and land previously cleared for cattle pasture and subsistence farming. Roberto Burle Marx, a famous Brazilian landscape architect and friend of the Wilsons, assisted with the initial design of the grounds.

Robert Wilson’s skills as a gifted gardener resulted in the rapid establishment of many plants, with a particular emphasis on palms and bromeliads. Stanley Smith, an English industrialist who settled in Australia, and a devotee of tropical plants, became the Wilson Botanical Garden’s most significant patron. His support began in 1967, and to this day a horticultural trust in his name continues to be a key benefactor to the Garden.

In 1973 Las Cruces was purchased by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), a nonprofit consortium of universities and research institutions from the US, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, South Africa, and Australia. The Organization operates three biological field stations in Costa Rica (Las Cruces; La Selva; Palo Verde) as part of its mission to provide leadership in education, research, and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics.

The Wilson Botanical Garden is located at 1,200 m (3,900 ft) above sea level along a spur of the Fila Cruces coastal range, and is about 300 km southeast of the capital San José in Coto Brus County. The prevailing temperatures at Las Cruces are pleasant and range from 21° – 27° C (70° – 80° F) during the day and 15° – 21° C (low 60° F) at night. The dry season runs from January to April, and mean annual rainfall is ~4,000 mm (157 inches).


For information and reservations: visit.ots @ tropicalstudies.org


Biological Stations:
La Selva
Las Cruces
Palo Verde

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