Located in a sheltered gorge at the foot of the Pitons, close to the town of Soufrière on the west coast of St. Lucia is the Diamond Botanical Gardens, considered as the oldest botanical gardens on the island of St. Lucia.
Diamond Botanical Gardens and Waterfall History
The Diamond Botanical Gardens are part of the Soufrière Estate. This 2,000-acre land grant was presented by King Louis XIV in 1713 to three Devaux brothers from Normandy in recognition of their services to France. Today, the estate is still owned by their descendants; Joan Du Bouley Devaux maintains the gardens. Bushes and shrubs bursting with brilliant flowers grow beneath towering trees and line pathways that lead to a natural gorge.
Deep within the botanical gardens, water bubbling from underground sulfur springs streams downhill in rivulets, forming the Diamond Waterfall. King Louis XVI of France was convinced and allocated funds to build a bath house for his troops with twelve stone baths, fortifying them against the St. Lucian climate. Also here in the bath house, it is believed that Empress Joséphine Bonaparte had bathed here as a young girl while visiting her father's plantation nearby. The bath house in Diamond Waterfall was destroyed during the Brigand's War, just after the French Revolution.
In 1930 the site was excavated by André Du Boulay, and two of the original stone baths were restored for his use. Outside baths were added later. Through the centuries, the rocks over which the cascade spills have become encrusted with minerals and tinted yellow, green, and purple.
Excursion at Diamond Botanical Gardens and Waterfall
The gardens feature a fine waterfall and mineral baths which are fed directly from the dormant Soufrière Volcano, also known as the Sulphur Springs, and underground hot springs. The mineral baths have been on the site since 1784 and it was believed that the waters had therapeutic and curative powers for those suffering from rheumatism, respiratory complaints and ulcers. You can slip into your swimsuit and soak in the health-giving mineral baths in the Diamond Botanical Garden and Waterfall.
You can find a nature trail, old mill, and a waterwheel on the site of the Diamond Botanical Gardens. The mill and waterwheel were built in 1765 and used to crush sugar cane. After the collapse of the sugar industry the mill was utilized for crushing limes to make lime oil and later provided electricity by hydroelectric power for the village of Soufrière.