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
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?
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
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!
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