Whenever I travel I tend to be drawn to the mundane: Where do people live? Where do they shop? What do they eat? Somehow, I often end up passing a graveyard. Over time and many trips, I have started to make observations about the different traditions that are observed around burials. And as a gardener, I find I am often drawn specifically to take note of and/or document the plant life that grows there as well as the small gardens that families plant on or around individual plots.
In Dominica I spent more time in cemeteries than is usual as I was specifically looking for any traces of my ancestors that I could find. With little resources or space, burial grounds are regularly overturned to make room for new bodies so it was rare to find a gravestone older than 20-30 years. Edited to add: Commenting below reminded me that Hurricane David completely devastated Dominica in 1979. That’s would be a major factor in why there are few gravestones before 1980.
I did not expect to find anything, but Davin and I looked carefully just in case. While searching, I took the time to document some of the interesting things that I saw, specifically the plants. I thought you might like to see it too and even though it has taken me three years to post these images, I had you in mind when I took them.
This was the closest I came to locating a distant relative in a graveyard. I was never able to determine if I am related to her.
I wrote about the cosmos recently when the flowers were just starting to open. Well, they’re coming up full force now and I’m loving them even more. The soft, double blooms have begun to poke through a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) plant that is growing alongside — it has proven to be an unexpected combination that I would repeat again.
Eventually, if all goes well, the false roselle will bear its own soft pink blooms. It’s a long season tropical — I started the seeds underneath lights back in January with the hopes that the plant would have enough time to make flowers before the killing frost comes. I am loving this plant in it’s own right, even without flowers. I first encountered it in St. Lucia where my friend David was growing a stand of them. Here it is a struggle to get 7-foot-tall plants — mine are not there yet and may never make it, but even still, it’s been beautiful at every stage. Both the flowers (if they ever come) and the young leaves are edible. They taste a lot like their namesake, sorrel (Rumex acetosa), and have that slightly acidic bite.
It must have been the influence of that month in the Caribbean where they are as big as trees, because I haven’t craved a holiday poinsettia in ages. The last time I remember growing one was the year I published a piece on restoring a dormant poinsettia to its original glory. That must have been ten years ago now.
What surprised me more than my own rekindled interest was that Davin was into it, too. We chose and bought this one together, an impulse buy at the Loblaw when we went in to get some money from the machine for subway tokens. The path to the ATM takes you right through the garden section. They know how to get me.
We loved that this one seemed to be a mutt of every variety jammed into one plant. It’s got a bit of the deep mahogany type, a few white and pink blush leaves, and lots of speckles. Later, I found myself eyeing a dwarf variety for sale in a corner shop a little too closely.
Perhaps I will keep this one and bring it out of dormancy for next year. Perhaps not. When it comes to plants, I don’t know who I am or what I will do anymore. The Year of the Id is sliding into a second.
Just a reminder that the House of Hope Drive is on until Saturday when I’ll be drawing a name for the prize. We’re currently up to $1, 130, which is crazy INCREDIBLE! Thanks so much for contributing!
My friend Celia, who lives in Dominica, is going to be visiting the House of Hope on December 21st. She is going to bring the total donation number to them and take a few pictures to send back to us.
I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but I could use a little colour right now. I took this photo last year while visiting the gardens of two of the women responsible for the House of Hope.
A few more pictures after the jump….
…I was in Barbados and it was day 3 into our 35 day trip to the Caribbean. We took the bus from Christ Church to the capital city, Bridgetown.
Meat donut. Your choice of sausage or minced meat. We got the coconut.