Celebrating 25 years of the Dart Nursery

Well before shovels went in the ground for any of its real estate, retail or hospitality developments, Dart built its nursery. 

And if you have ever wandered down the Paseo in Camana Bay or relaxed on the town centre’s Crescent, you will doubtless have spotted that the 685-acre site is alive with vibrant flora. From the silver thatch palms that keep the Island a shady paradise to the four courtyards filled with jasmine, cassia, gardenia and canella; plants and trees have always played an integral part in the planning and design of the mixed-use community, shaping an environment that is not only sustainable, but visually appealing.

What many visitors perhaps do not realise however is that all of Dart’s developments are unified through distinct and mature landscaping that use native and endemic plants and trees that all come from the company’s own 26-acre nursery.

Conceived two and a half decades ago, the Dart Nursery is tucked away at the end of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in West Bay, providing an oasis of over 180 species of palms and 500 species of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

In the case of Camana Bay, the owners and design team recognised at the outset the importance of intuitive landscape and land planning as the environmental glue from which buildings and structures would rise, integrating all elements of the community with their island home and creating a town truly of the Cayman Islands.

The team wanted to use landscape architecture to create accessibility, help with energy management and facilitate welcoming outdoor spaces. They therefore looked to the cornucopia of tropical plant life at the Dart Nursery to create the desired effect.

It was deliberate planning that predated the advent of the 2013 National Conservation Law. And for Dart, it reflects a philosophy that is part of the company’s DNA and has been in practice for quarter of a century.  

From humble beginnings, the flora from the nursery has since been used not just in Camana Bay, but in all of Dart’s developments, from the Cayman Island’s Yacht Club to the Salt Creek residential area, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and the adjacent Residences at Seafire, and Regatta Office Park. The plants propagated at the nursery can also be found in Dart parks across Grand Cayman.

For recent developments, Dart’s focus has been on using resilient native and regional plants that are already adapted to Cayman’s environment, rainfall and climatic patterns; requiring less frequent watering and fertilising. In one case, this has led to the lowering of landscaping water needs by more than 50 per cent. The Dart Nursery has also recently become home to more than 350 trees that have been relocated during the expansion and realignment of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

By cultivating plants and trees on island, Dart aims to remain environmentally responsible by reducing the carbon footprint of importing them from thousands of miles away, as well as reducing the risk of importing diseases and pests. The nursery is also committed to saving threatened species as well as reintroducing native species into urban environments.

With an ever-growing portfolio, the Dart Nursery is committed to supplying the quality and diversity of plant materials needed for future projects. From mangroves and buttonwood to periwinkle and coleus, the nursery helps to create innovative and exciting landscapes that play an important role in the quality of the community whilst also bringing a distinctly Caymanian flavour.