My little banana grove is flourishing and I have five large bunches that will soon be ready for picking (what am I going to do with them all ?). Green bananas, known as ‘fig’ here (not sure what they call fig – could be confusing), are a staple and are good in traditional one-pot brafs with yam, dasheen, fish or smoked meat. I’m also going to hang one bunch in a dark corner to ripen.
Easter weekend gave me a chance to take a break from house-building work and spend a little time in the garden. I haven’t really touched any of it since all the bush-cutting I did last year and so Orange Field has simply become a rather messy building site. Armed with pick, mattock, spade and machete I set to work tidying the banana grove and planting bougainvillea cuttings along the southern boundary. The first task was to tidy up the public trail that runs beside it and clear some of the trees and bush that had encroached from the neighbouring woodland. It was rewarding work as I uncovered wild heliconia, eucharist lilies and amaryllis. A huge bunch of green bananas was ready for picking and I planted out several new suckers in an attempt to migrate the grove a little farther to the west. By the time the church-goers returned from their Sunday service the trail was transformed and they were so delighted there was lots of hand-shaking and invitations to come along and worship with them whenever I want. Ahem ..
The southern boundary is becoming a nursery of sorts until I manage to clear bush and wild grass from other parts of the garden and the building site eventually recedes. So far, in addition to the bougainvillea hedgerow I’m trying to create, I have white ginger lilies, arabica coffee, queen of the night, tree fern, clerodendron and nutmeg all planted here. Some of it will move on later.
I think some thought I was a bit silly doing planting given the long kawem (the dry season) had parched the landscape so much. Funny thing was that it rained properly, all night, for the first time in about two months after I had finished planting – so now I look like some kind of gardening genius
There’s a hell of a lot to do in the garden – I think it’s going to take a very long time – but I love to see it developing little by little.
This is a seed pod of a chatanier tree (Sloanea detata). The chatanier grows very tall, has huge buttress roots and is common throughout Dominica’s rainforest. They say runaway slaves and indigenous Amerindians would use the buttress roots for temporary shelter and even as a drum for sending warning messages across the forest.