Janice Grant Taffe’s lush garden, nestled just above the heart of Jamaica’s metropolis, is a tranquil oasis for friends and family in need of a respite from the hustle and bustle of city living. The green utopia also serves as a place for the recently retired former general counsel and corporate secretary of Sagicor Group Jamaica to get lost in her own world and thoughts, and embrace patience, attentiveness, and renewal.
Her orchids are the main teachers of stick-to-itiveness and resilience, she shares with the Style Observer.
“Sometimes, an orchid will not bloom in so long that I forget what colour it is!” Grant Taffe admits as she leads the way around the garden that surrounds her home. “But I still care for them, talk with them lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) and wait until they’re ready, knowing that the magnificent blooms will someday come.”
The Manchester native has always loved gardening, she informs, but she started curating this space eight years ago when she moved to that home along with her husband Joe and daughter Jada-Rae. It wasn’t very long before her friends and colleagues started flocking her backyard terrace in the evenings. They dubbed the safe space The Lanai.
“When they come here, sometimes they don’t want to leave,” Grant Taffe says with a chuckle, “and that gives me joy.”
She perches on one of the bright yellow patio chairs that she uses for hosting company. The wind chime above her head plays a gentle melody, accompanied by the choir of nearby birds. “It’s a space that is full of life, and vibes, where we can come together and celebrate life,” she says.
As she shows off the mint, thyme, pepper and other edible shrubs in the herb section of her garden, Grant Taffe reflects on her mother who, although engaged in the public sector, found time to grow mint and other plants in large enough quantities in Manchester to supply commercial entities. It was from then that she knew she had inherited her mother’s green thumb and love for plants.
“I also like to add little trinkets to my garden — anything that brings me fond memories and joy,” she says, smiling as she touches a Christmas tree ornament hanging from a trellis. “Plants thrive on positivity and grow where there is love.”
The second lesson, attentiveness, is one that leads the legal luminary to constantly make changes in her garden. On her daily visits, she takes note of how a particular flower is thriving in a particular area and will move it around until she finds the spot where it is happiest. She explains this as she shows us her garden’s “naughty corner”.
“This is where all the bad plants go for a time out.” she points to the shaded area with a stand full of plants in rehabilitation. (It would seem orchids are quite the troublemakers, as they feature heavily there.) “Once they are doing well again, then they can go back into the open, but usually not in the same place.”
But not every plant makes it out of the correctional facility. The ones who don’t respond to resuscitation efforts teach Grant Taffe the third lesson — renewal.
“Like that bougainvillea,” she says, pointing at a stump. “It just wouldn’t come back, so I had to accept that its best days were behind it and ask the landscaper to cut it down.”
After a moment she adds: “The beauty is that this is still not the end. It will grow again, and we can start afresh.”