A Shared PassionSunday, September 19, 2021
Although now relocated from the cool, salubrious climes of Stony Hill, Jacinth Byles informs the Style Observer that the passion is still there. “We have created an eye-catching garden, but we cannot replicate what we had in Stony Hill. The weather is absolutely very different. It is so much hotter. Gardening forces you to understand weather patterns and seasons. We carried some of the plants from Stony Hill to where we are currently, but the climate does not permit their sustainability. My garden is never the same. It evolves as we constantly relocate, replant, pull out and sometimes allow nature to take its course. We are older now, not as fit as we would like [to be] but we still do what we can on weekends. My husband takes a walk in the garden most mornings and gives his constructive criticism at breakfast”.
Theirs is a well laid-out garden, so even when there are no blooms, like now, September, a rainy season, the garden looks fine with just greenery. It pays to have a well laid-out structured garden, adds our hostess, which we soon discover is #SecretWeapon No1.
A green thumb is seemingly another. “I think I have a green thumb. Whatever I plant grows. I am the planter. I have no issues in getting dirty. My argument is that's what water is for. You can get clean anytime.” #SecretWeapon No2: Don't be afraid of getting down and dirty!
Byles does confess that her garden would not be as formidable without assistance. “ I have a dependable, dedicated, and patient gardener. We call him the 'Night Gardener'. He does not stop working until what he wants is accomplished. He stays until night voluntarily. He uses his cellular phone for light. There isn't another like Dillon. We are so lucky to have him! His patience is admired. I must also mention my housekeeper, Joyce, who is very caring and attentive to the plants. She has a keen eye and is very interested in gardening and assists from time to time. She literally knows every plant in the garden. I am very fortunate,” she shares.
Gardening relieves stress. An imperative in these times. It's also therapeutic for this gardener. “I am very happy puttering around, rearranging, pulling up weeds, getting dirty and at the end of the day there is a feeling of accomplishment. Plants love attention. My motto is 'plants are just like children'. You must look after them,” Byles says.
Conversely, gardening can be frustrating. “It teaches you patience and that you are not in total control. You can only do what you can, and the rest is up to nature. Not everything is going to flourish the way you want it to. It teaches you about life. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. So it is with plants.
“For example, I just love gerberas. But unfortunately, I have been quite unsuccessful in nurturing one of my own. I have given up trying.”
Knowledge is Power
“My husband and I went on a trip to Arizona, where it is scorching hot”, Byles tells us. We noticed that the gardens were lovely but most of the plants obviously were able to endure the heat. So, we concluded that we were going to be using the plants we saw when we got back home. Today, we are mainly into bromeliads and orchids. You can safely say there is a symbiotic relationship between the two. They collect their nutrients from organic debris and grow on trees without soil. With this information, we are fully into bromeliads and orchids. They are hardy plants, easy to care for. The leaf colours vary and are very attractive and the blooms will sometimes last for three to four months. Other hardy plants that adorn our garden are bougainvillea, periwinkle, areca palm, cascade palms, and other types of palms. Sometimes these palms are transferred indoors to add that indoor-outdoor look to our home.
“In the cooler areas of the garden, you will see ferns, begonias, anthuriums, spathiphyllums, commonly called peace lily.”
The distinctive looking Old Man's Beard, is another plant that has added beauty to the garden. It is, as the name suggests, grey in colour and resembles an old man's beard. Byles has used it to adorn her palm trees, which adds an interesting look. There is also a large poinciana tree.
For SO readers about to start their garden journey. Byles suggests the following:
• Find the right location (shade/sunlight and access)
• Choose the correct soil
• Consider the type of container
• Get information on when/what and how to feed your plant (water/fertiliser)
Most importantly, she concludes: “You need time! Don't rush, it is not an overnight hobby. There is joy in reaping the benefits after the hard labour. Gardening will keep you busy with a purpose, and it shows you how to care and wait for the reward. It takes time to find the right location... Gardening takes time.”
Lockdowns have afforded Byles more time to devote to her plants. Plus, it allows her to get the natural vitamin D from the sunlight which is essential to help fight the dreaded COVID-19.