December 01, 2015

A visit to the Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia

"Annuals" in a Caribbean botanical garden



We've had an usual November, weather-wise, in Toronto as there were more than a few days over 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 Fahrenheit). This is a blessing for me working outside as I'm wrapping up the business season with fall cleanups. I dislike that term "cleanup" (or "clean up") when combined with the words "garden", "spring" and "fall". Yes, I use the phrase in my advertising as it's commonly used by potential clients but it implies the garden needs to be cleansed of some apparent dirt or grime like you find in one's bathroom or kitchen. And perish the thought that the garden is teeming with bacteria and germs (it is). I guess many non-gardening types would just prefer using a metaphoric disinfecting wipe and sanitize things going into the winter. Hence the armies of landscape maintenance workers with their leaf blowers at full throttle for the past several months. But, as usual, I digress.

(What does this have to do with St. Lucia? Great question! We'll get there....)

My work around this time of the year includes discarding many annuals that have done their duty adding colour in flower beds and outdoor containers since they were planted in May. Many plants like potato vine, verbena, impatiens and begonias can't tolerate the frost and just wither away. Buying plants for 6 months is just how it's done in zone 5 Toronto and I assume many other places gripped by winter for months on end.

But when you live 13 degrees north of the equator, you really don't have to deal with such issues.

Linda and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year by going on a cruise to the Southern Caribbean in October (sans enfants!) One of the islands we visited was St. Lucia and we booked an excursion for that hot and humid morning. Visiting the Diamond Botanical Gardens in the Soufriere area was on the itinerary and this post covers many of the photos I took.

The welcome sign at the front explains how the Gardens came about:

The Diamond Botanical Gardens, Mineral Baths and Waterfall is a portion of the 2,000 acres of land granted to 3 Devaux brothers by King Louis XIV in 1713, in recognition of their services to "Crown and Country."...
In 1928, Mr. Andre du Boulay  owner of Soufriere Estate and Diamond Baths excavated the site and restored 2 baths out of the original 12, that had been destroyed by the "Brigands" during the French revolution....
 In 1983 on the death of Mr. Andre du Boulay, his daughter Joan Devaux (du Boulay) become manager [sic] of this family property and began designing and planting these gardens that you enjoy today.
(Signed) Joan Devaux, Manager 


I suppose if you've been to "tropical" botanical gardens, the plants shown in this post would be common and even mundane but since I'm from the Great White North, I didn't recognize at first, much less identify, many of the trees, shrubs and "perennials". (I'm not sure if "perennials" is the correct description. Do these plants go dormant and "wake up" year after year?)

I won't bother you with further botanical inquiries. You want to see lots of colourful flowers and lush foliage and I got them!




Etlingera elatior Pink torch ginger at St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Etlingera elatior (Pink torch ginger) at the
St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere 

There were many Heliconias growing without much apparent care or concern throughout the Gardens (but comparing them to spiraeas or lilacs would be insulting!)

Heliconia psittacorum Golden Torch at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Heliconia psittacorum "Golden Torch" at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Heliconia psittacorum Golden Torch at St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Heliconia psittacorum "Golden Torch" at the
St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere 

It's one thing to see these Heliconia blooms in flower shops but another to view them in situ.

Heliconia rostrata Hanging Lobster Claw at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Heliconia rostrata (Hanging Lobster Claw) at the
 Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia



Heliconias at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Heliconias at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
Soufriere, St. Lucia 


No need to "over-winter" this Musa or banana indoors. That shed is about 6 feet high, to give you a sense of scale.
Musa banana tree at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Musa (banana tree) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 


It's wonderful that this

Mussaenda philippica at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mussaenda philippica at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 


becomes this

Mussaenda philippica at St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Mussaenda philippica at the St. Lucia
 Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere 



Palms at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Palms at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
 Soufriere, St. Lucia



Papaya tree at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Papaya tree at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
Soufriere, St.  Lucia 

I wonder if the staff harvest these when the fruit are ripe?

Papaya tree fruit at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Papaya tree fruit at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
Soufriere, St. Lucia


I was reminded of a coneflower (Echinacea spp.) but this flower is huge and glossy! Buds are edible and commonly used in Malaysian cooking, especially in fish dishes. You can learn more about the culinary aspects of this Torch Ginger by clicking on the link.


Pink torch ginger Etlingera elatior at St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Pink torch ginger (Etlingera elatior) at the
St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere 


The colour of the bridge is echoed by the flowers from the Chenille plants (Acalypha hispida) in the background.

Red bridge Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Red bridge at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
 Soufriere, St. Lucia 


There were many of these Red or Tahitian gingers blooming profusely. I'm betting hummingbirds find this a favourite, just based on the flower shape.

Red ginger Alpinia purpurata  at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Red ginger (Alpinia purpurata) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 

"Lush" would be a good adjective to describe the plant growth around Linda and the others going along the path. As a bonus, we didn't experience mosquitos or biting insects but did have a thick layer of bug repellent on our skins as a precaution.

Soufriere St. Lucia  Diamond Botanical Gardens path by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Soufriere, St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens path 


St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens path Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens path,  Soufriere 

The stream's water has a high concentration of minerals which gives it this murky grey colour.

Stream at Diamond Botanical Garden Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Stream at the Diamond Botanical Garden, Soufriere, St. Lucia



Tahitian ginger Alpinia purpurata  at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Tahitian ginger (Alpinia purpurata) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 

Here's a photo opportunity at the waterfall. You'll forgive me showing my "mid-cruise paunch" as the ship's dining was excellent!

The Jungs at Diamond Waterfall at Diamond Botanical Gardens St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Linda and me at the Diamond Waterfall at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia



White plumeria Frangipani at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
White plumeria (Frangipani) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 


This Alcalypha is also known locally as "Joseph's Coat" due to its random mottled leaf colour and markings.
Acalypha wilkesiana Copperleaf at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Acalypha wilkesiana (Copperleaf) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Alpinia purpurata Red ginger at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Alpinia purpurata (Red ginger) at the
 Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Alpinia purpurata Tahitian ginger at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Alpinia purpurata (Tahitian ginger) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia


I didn't expect to see bamboos in the southern Caribbean but here's a healthy clump:

Bamboos at Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia
Bamboos at Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia


These begonias are locally called "bread and cheese" plants.

Begonia vincentina at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Begonia vincentina at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 


I was reminded of the begonias that are tossed away every late fall back in Toronto when I saw this vigorous clump. Obviously, they love the Caribbean heat and humidity...

Begonia vincentina at St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Begonia vincentina at the
 St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere 


And so do these Brugmansia:

Brugmansia (Trumpet Flower) at Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia
Brugmansia (Trumpet Flower) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia


I "heart" Caladium. That's what I see in the centre of this big leaf anyway.

Caladium Elephant Ear at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Caladium (Elephant Ear) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 


High contrast between the dark leaves and electric flowers found with "Black Flamingo":

Chrysothemis pulchella Black Flamingo at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Chrysothemis pulchella "Black Flamingo" at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia



Chrysothemis pulchella Black Flamingo at St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Chrysothemis pulchella "Black Flamingo" at the
St. Lucia Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere


Don't you find these coconut husks much nicer to look at than the pre-cast concrete monstrosities found at big box hardware stores?

Coconut husk retaining wall at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Coconut husk "retaining wall" at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Crepe ginger Costus speciosus at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Crepe ginger (Costus speciosus) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Crepe ginger bud Costus speciosus at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Crepe ginger bud (Costus speciosus) at the
 Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia 

You can see how this ginger got its common name as the flower certainly has a crepe paper-like texture.

Crepe ginger Costus speciosus at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Crepe ginger (Costus speciosus) at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia


I always enjoy taking pictures of Croton and this one didn't disappoint.

Croton at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Croton at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
Soufriere, St. Lucia



Diamond Botanical Gardens down a path Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Down a path at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
Soufriere, St. Lucia 

My better half smiling in the heat and humidity. She's a real trooper when it comes to putting up with me taking pictures and ignoring her in my attempts to capture the "perfect" shot.

Diamond Botanical Gardens Linda on a path Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Linda on a path at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Diamond Botanical Gardens palms Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Overhead palms at the Diamond Botanical Gardens,
 Soufriere, St. Lucia 



Diamond Botanical Gardens path Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Diamond Botanical Gardens path, Soufriere, St. Lucia


Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia Alpinia purpurata Red ginger by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere St. Lucia
 Alpinia purpurata (Red ginger) 


Just another bright and beautiful St. Lucia sky...

Diamond Botanical Gardens St. Lucia Soufriere  canopy by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Diamond Botanical Gardens, St. Lucia, Soufriere canopy 



Diamond Botanical Gardens stream Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Diamond Botanical Gardens stream, Soufriere, St. Lucia 


The mineral deposits have accumulated over time at this waterfall. This was a very popular place to take photos although, frankly, a little under-whelming.

Diamond Waterfall at Diamond Botanical Gardens Soufriere St. Lucia by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Diamond Waterfall at the
Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufriere, St. Lucia




(You can click here for more background information on the Diamond Botanical Gardens, Waterfall and Mineral Baths)