Roseau, Dominica Gardens (3)

The women continue walking through the garden admiring the huge variety of flowers and plants.

Sandra:     Everything grows so lush; is there a lot of   
            rainfall in this area?
Guide:      Yes, the gardens receive about 85 inches a    
            year; which is perfect for a wide variety of plants. 
            At one time this was all sugarcane fields. 
Donita:     Why did the owner stop growing sugarcane?
Guide:      William Davies was the owner of the estate and 
            wasn’t having a lot of luck with his cane.  I think  
            he was very happy when the Government offered to buy 
            his land.
Sandra:     This is so lovely; I’m sure this is a very    
            popular place for tourists and visitors.
Guide:      It’s also a very popular place for botanists  
            Almost from the beginning, The Gardens was associated 
            with botanists from Kew Botanical who collected      
            plants from all over the world. About six years after 
            the plantings were begun, a portion of the land was  
            given to the Catholic Church to start the first      
            secondary school on the island.
Donita:     Do you know if any famous people have been    
Guide:      (Laughing.) Oh, my yes!  Her Majesty Queen     
            Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip have been here twice 
            – once in 1966 and again in 1985. There have also    
            been famous cricket teams playing here.
Donita:     Cricket? But where could they play in this    
Guide:      The Gardens didn’t always look like this. I’ll 
            show you where the cricket field was. It was so      
            famous, players came from India, New Zealand, the    
            U.K. and Guyana. 
            Look here’s Winsome!
Winsome:    Hello, everyone. Have you been enjoying the   
Sandra:     Yes, it’s been wonderful; we have really      
            learned a lot. 
Guide:      Winsome, I’m going to let you take over now   
            while I go answer other people’s questions. Goodbye, 
            Ladies. Have a pleasant day.

(They all say goodbye and continue walking.)

Winsome:    Perhaps you have been told about the two      
            sections of The Gardens?
Both:       No.
Winsome:    The Gardens is divided mostly into two        
            sections, the ornamental and the exotic plants       
            section. Then the second section is the economic     
            plants section, often called, “the back.”
Donita:     Does “economic plants” mean they are cheap to 
Winsome:    Maybe, for some of the plants, but more       
            exactly these are plants that produce an edible crop. 
            The crops there are citrus, coffee, nutmeg, ackee,   
            tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage and radish.
Sandra:     I remember eating ackee in Jamaica, a very a  
            delicious fruit! I wish we could buy it in the U.S. 
Winsome:    Yes, it is a delicious fruit when it is ripe, 
            but it is poisonous when it is not ripe. It is       
            illegal to export it for that reason. 
Donita:     I’m surprised that some of the same vegetables 
            I have in my garden were grown here!:
Winsome:    All of these crops were grown for             
            experimentation purposes by the botanists; they were 
            testing these vegetables under climate and soil      
            conditions. Most of the economic section is no longer 
Sandra:     I see by the signs that these are “medicinal  
Winsome:    I think this is a fascinating part of the     
            garden!  (Points to plant.) My mother made tea from   
            the Orange leaf to stop vomiting; and the Guava leaf 
            to treat diarrhea. Over there, is the Periwinkle,    
            used in a tea for diabetes. Modern drug companies use 
            it to lower blood sugar in diabetics, in the         
            treatment of leukemia and as tranquilizers. 
Donita:     Why don’t more people know about these natural 
Winsome:    It’s strange, but herb medicines are looked   
            upon by drug companies with skepticism.              
            Unfortunately, many of the herb remedies are untested 
            scientifically. My mother got her knowledge from her 
            mother as did each generation before them. So we know 
            what plants are safe to use.
Sandra:     Maybe drug manufacturers don’t want people to 
            know there is something cheaper to use than          
            prescribed medicine?
Winsome:    Perhaps……Did you know that many medicines come 
            from plants? For example, salcilin, the base for     
            aspirin comes from the Willow bark. Digitalis, which 
            is used for regulating heart beat, comes from        
            Foxglove, and quinine used to treat Malaria comes    
            from Cinchona bark. 
Donita:     I read about the Native Americans using some  
            of those plants. Medical Research could really learn 
            a lot by coming to The Gardens!
Author: Torsten Daerr