Sunday, 20 November 2011


Whilst I pride myself on being able to manage most things around the place (I'm still beaming from single-handedly installing my new gas stove this week), I am always pleased to see Trevor, my trusty gardener, when he comes to give a hand with weeding, grass cutting and pruning.  

In the same way that produce is shared, so too are seeds and saplings.  If I've enjoyed a particularly good eat at my parent's place, there is no better, or more economical way than to "adopt" a sapling from the tree that provided this bounty, in the hope that in time, I too will be producing such gems (this doesn't always happen when you take saplings, but it's certainly worth a try, particularly when these are freely available and free of charge).

Although my dear old Dad, now 84, conducts a daily walk around the garden to check his fruit, occasionally, during a high wind or stormy weather, a prize specimen will drop, roll away to some far corner and take root.  This was certainly the case after the hurricane last year and down in the undergrowth, seven fallen coconuts took root and proceeded to grow.  My father was more than pleased to be able to pass these on to me.  As they all came from one tree (it is the only coconut tree on that side of his garden), I tend to think of them as the seven sisters.  These have been planted in a row along the perimeter of the veg garden which I now refer to as "The Garden of the Seven Sisters"; I have no doubt that some local folk, being rather superstitious, will believe this name is based in some sort of magic... magical - definitely, but magic - not as far as I know.

On previous occasions, my father and his helper, Mr Johnson, have appeared three days before Full Moon, armed with other saplings looking for a new home and I have always been happy to welcome them.  My entire banana collection has come from my father's garden. Bananas grow, flower and produce fruit in a rather quick cycle and then the lead shoot dies, so is usually removed immediately after the fruit has been harvested.  But all is not lost, for whilst the lead shoot has been busy making bananas, she has put in place a cunning succession plan, one which many large corporations could learn a great deal from. For she leaves behind two or three "daughters" in various stages of growth, ready to take her place.  The clump is known colloquially as "mother and daughters" and can either be left to create one huge clump or daughters can be encouraged to leave home and move to pastures new.  A simple sharp spade to the base with cleanly remove a daughter.  A truly amazing growth process that keeps us in an abundance of bananas (and plantains) the whole year round. 

Despite all the years of cumulative knowledge and treemanship, occasionally, it is necessary to bring in other tree specialists. It recently became obvious that some of the very large, older trees that I managed to save from the excavator during the land clearance and house-build, were in need of some attention and for this I called in some local tree men.  I had seen tree specialists around the place, with their hoists, hard hats and chain saws - however, these were not they! Recommended by Trevor the gardener, these guys came down from the country for the day.  In a random episode in my previous life, I had been obliged to study for a Health & Safety qualification, so thought I had a reasonable idea of how such a project should be undertaken. As it transpired this training had no relevance whatsoever to the events that would unfold. The best options were to either close my eyes or go inside until the work was completed.

These guys climbed trees 40ft - 60ft tall, with no ropes, harnesses, hard hats or steel toe-capped boots.  Armed simply with machetes and with bare feet, they clambered to the top of each tree, which incidentally are full of stinging ants and other unpleasant inhabitants, and proceeded to hack away, moving down the tree until the desired height and shape were obtained. And so they worked, creating a sense of calm that all was well and this is how things had been done for generations. THEN came the hysterical shouting......they had disturbed a bee's nest and were flying down out of the tree as though on a greased fireman's pole!  The following scene of these two grown men running around the garden whilst one manically swished himself with a cut branch was just too close to an old Laurel & Hardy movie to be taken seriously.  I tried my best not to laugh out loud instead putting on the look that best conveys concern and compassion, but it was hard - very, very hard.  Thankfully, neither were seriously hurt, though they decided that this particular tree had been sufficiently well trimmed and quickly moved on to the next with bodies intact and only their pride slightly dented and a few bee stings to show for their encounter.  


  1. The bee story is funny! Interesting: Learning to grow bananas and coconut trees as "gardening." Wow... I can't imagine!

  2. Having spent most of my life in a temperate climate, it's all new to me. Who knew that there was still so much to learn - old dog, new tricks : )