April 2018 Gardening

by Jane Ahrens

From Mélie’s Garden

One of my favorite classes at Parsons School of Design was History of Gardens and I have always enjoyed visiting horticultural sights whenever I travel. My husband and I have discovered that gardens lead you to the most interesting places. Last month, we were in Florida and Jamaica.

The first garden we visited was the Mounts Botanical Garden in Palm Beach.

Our friend, Polly Reed, is on the board of the Mounts and she took us to see a wonderful educational exhibit there called “Washed Ashore”. Angela Haseltine Pozzi founded the Artula Institute for Art and Environmental Education U.S., which works to bring awareness to the world’s growing plastic pollution problem through art. She and her associates have created giant sculptures made of plastic and rubber objects that have been washed ashore from oceans around the world. These sculptures were placed in various spots throughout the Mounts Botanical Garden as educational, and cautionary tale of what we are doing to our environment with these polluting products in our water. It was fascinating to see how many different objects one could spot in these sculptures from plastic toys, water bottles, ropes, household products and a million other familiar objects that we use. One large sculpture of a Puffin was completely made out of shredded rubber tires! It is the Mounts hope that people viewing these sculptures will become more careful about how they dispose of these items and perhaps thinking twice about buying them in the first place.

The second garden we visited was in Jamaica.

It was a wonderful organic garden at the Tryall Club, which was started five years ago and now supplies most of the vegetables served in their meals. It is a charming fenced garden with irrigated raised beds surrounded by banana trees. In one bed a wonderful variety of tomato plants are grown tied to strings attached to a trellis for support. Okra, eggplant, bak choy, spinach, carrots, potatoes and a variety of herbs are grown there in organic soil. Another section has plants, “to encourage beneficial insects”, I learned from my knowledgable guide. No pesticides are used “unless absolutely necessary and if so it will be insecticidal soap” and caterpillars on tomato plants are removed by hand!  New seedlings are started “in a shade house” and then planted out in the garden with an additional cover, “until they get used to the sun, then the cover is removed”. Quite the opposite to our climate, where plants are covered to protect them from the cold not the sun! The primary growing season in Jamaica is during the winter and spring months because it becomes too hot in the summer and it is often too rainy in the fall. Organic soil has been brought in because the composting there is not quite sufficient yet due to it being such a young garden. It was so interesting to see the familiar vegetables and herbs we plant grown in such a different climate. This month we are headed to the US South West and that will be a completely different environment to explore.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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