The Cayman Islands has close to 600 bank and trust companies but only one Botanic Garden. The Caribbean Islands are described as paradise, but money isn’t shade, flowers, and food. Without plants, there is no paradise. This is my first time in the Caribbean, the temperatures are pleasant in the low 80’s, the breezes are blowing gently, palm trees and colorful bougainvillea in red, pink, white, purple, and orange grow wildly along the roadways. I need practice in relaxing on a beach, I’m not naturally good at it, I don’t sit still easily let alone lie in the sun for hours. Naturally, I set out for the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Garden, amazingly, a reciprocal admission with my membership in the American Horticultural Society.
Forgotten Gardens of the Islands of Salvation
Devil’s Island was an isolated prison from 1852-1953 with some 80,000 prisoners held in unspeakably horrible conditions during that time. Now we tourists wander about it looking at the crumbling buildings, glancing at the chapel paintings done by the imprisoned art forger, Francis Lagrange.
The Sunnyside garden sits high on a hill in just east of the Capital, St Georges, in Grenada. You must walk a broad, steep and uneven driveway to reach the gardens. Once again the garden is placed to take advantage of the best views. The true gardener for this property was a woman, who had her own money and a passion for plants. Today she is nearly 90, and unable to physically or mentally participate in the gardening. Her son, Randy and his family have taken over the care of the garden and are just beginning to manage it so cruise tours can visit. Many improvements are needed but there is a collection of plants and a treasure of designs built by decades of dedication.
This small country seasons the world with nutmeg (20% of the world’s supply), mace, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, bay leaf, and cacao. This agricultural output rightly gives the country the spice isle title. It is also a land of rich volcanic soil. The weather here is 78 degrees and sunny, rainy spells, averaging 218 rainy days. The island is humid but balmy sweet breezes keep the temperature bearable. Grenada sits at the end of the hurricane range but Hurricane Ivan hit in September 2004 damaging 90% of the homes and killing 39 people. Before that damage was fully repaired Hurricane Emily hit in July 2005. The damage can still be seen today with stacks of pulverized cars and trucks sitting around the island. What do you do with the trash when it comes in such enormous amounts? The vegetation helps some since Pink Coral vines grow wild here and cover some of the junk.