On any given day — even a scorching one in May at high noon — you will find people enjoying the leafy green spaces that give shape to Camana Bay’s great outdoors. A family may be laughing and bonding under the tall palms that grace the arc of The Crescent. A lunchgoer may be seeking tranquillity under the splendid shade of cosy Canella Court.
In this eco-friendly Town Centre, it is evident that people are naturally drawn to nature, seeking respite from their modern lives with hopes to revive spirits, refresh minds or simply enjoy a little serenity.
For more than 20 years, under the guiding vision of avid tree collector Ken Dart, the green-thumbed team of Dart’s nursery operations — established in 1996 as the West Indian Club Nursery — has understood the significant role that nature plays in people’s lives. Moreover, they have grasped the importance of creating and nurturing these natural environments in a gentle and sustainable manner.
“We are building a horticultural heritage that is sensitive to Cayman and its people,” explains Anand Adapa, Senior Manager of Landscape Services and the head of daily operations at the Dart nursery, home to more than 150 plant species. “Mr. [Ken] Dart is passionate about land conservation and has a great deal of respect for nature. His first project in Cayman was to open a nursery and the result of this endeavour can be seen today in Dart properties, most visibly at Camana Bay and most recently at Kimpton Seafire [Resort + Spa].”
The idea that humans have an innate desire to connect with nature is a concept that has been studied by many throughout history and today is referred to as “biophilia.”
The idea that humans have an innate desire to connect with nature is a concept that has been studied by many throughout history and today is referred to as “biophilia.” The word was first used to describe a “love of life” by German psychoanalyst Erich Fromme in 1973 and was later coined as an official term by Harvard entomologist Edward O. Wilson, who stated in the 1980s that love of nature is genetic, not necessarily voluntary.
This magnetism that draws people away from buildings and technology is apparent daily at Camana Bay, even on those sizzling May days when folks are seen lingering on The Crescent lawn despite high temperatures. The concept of biophilia aligns with Dart’s vision to create places where people want to be. “Mr. Dart understood this connection early on,” says Adapa. “He recognised the value of green spaces and how they can improve quality of life. He continues to encourage us to be guardians of this nature, but to do so in a responsible way.”
Perhaps one of the most commonly used terms relating to the environment is “sustainability.” This is a word cherished by Adapa and the Dart nursery team, a word that lies at the core of what they do and that, in their eyes, can never be overused or lose its importance. From using less water and fewer pesticides to reducing the need for importing plants or soil to repurposing organic materials and regular composting, the Dart nursery is nurturing a legacy of responsibility and true sustainability.
Adapa believes that being sustainable means that future generations can enjoy a connection with nature, but that “they too must carry on doing what we do today with minimal environmental impact.” He also explains that in Cayman this means we need to focus more on nurturing our own gardens and natural environment with what we already have here — “this means importing less.”
Encompassing two nurseries and spread over 26 acres of land on Grand Cayman, the Dart nursery’s large inventory of plant species is a mix of indigenous and exotic specimens, small and large. They belong to our future and to future generations of people who choose to call Cayman home.
And so, on any given day in any given month, people will continue to be drawn to Camana Bay’s arboreal wonders and its magnificent green spaces, thanks to a singular vision and an abundance of horticultural brilliance.