Beginning this month, the entrance to Peninsula Papagayo, the Bay Lot right of way, and the Four Seasons roundabout are going to undergo a transformative restoration, one in which native natural beauty is drawn to the forefront. Raymond Jungles, Inc. has been brought in to helm this delicate project, which seeks to create a lush, colorful environment completely at one with the Peninsula’s own natural advantages.
Jungles, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, has won fifty-three design awards from the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Raymond Jungles, Inc. (RJI), his eponymous studio, was introduced to the project in late June 2022, although this is not the company’s first Costa Rican undertaking. The designers immediately saw the amazing potential the area held, and decided that the goal would be to gently bring back and improve upon the natural bounty of the Peninsula, rather than try to impose a more artificial look borrowed from other tropical destinations.
The project is a restoration, says Raymond Jungles. Costa Rica does not, he adds, need improving upon. The studio’s ambition is to maintain the integrity of the area by returning existing native species to the Peninsula entrance. Invasive plants will be removed and replaced with lush, evergreen Costa Rican plants. This is done with an eye to the future—encouraging the propagation of native plants will have long-lasting benefits to the environment throughout all future Peninsula Papagayo projects.
Working with local botanists, the designers are selecting plants that require minimal irrigation and provide a habitat for indigenous fauna. Threatened and endangered native plants will be prioritized, encouraging their reestablishment in the area. This will not be manicured lawns and eye-catching topiary; this will be a coaxing of nature back into place. Large-scale palms, canopy trees, cycads, and agaves will be planted at the beginning stages. Later plans include the introduction of wildflowers and other flowering flora beloved by pollinators.
The plants have been chosen specifically to please all of the senses. Flowers will be cultivated and used as seasonal color, simultaneously providing sustenance for pollinators and hummingbirds. Evergreen fruit trees will provide food for local populations, both human and animal. Providing a native food source for the macaws, encouraging their presence nearby, is a goal. And smell is not neglected: usage of plants with interesting and delightful fragrances will be generous.
Inspiration comes neither from outside influences nor faraway landscapes, says Jungles. Rather, it comes from Peninsula Papagayo itself: “the existing natural beauty both onsite and off-site, and the tremendous botanical diversity.” The large swathes of completely unspoiled natural areas and the local flora and fauna are the genesis of this landscape project, and the end result will harmonize seamlessly. The first impression every visitor has when they enter, he says, “will be that the landscape, lush and natural, has always been there.”