Jamaica Magazine

I Love "Mi Yard!!" by American Retiree in Jamaica

Written by John Casey

I love “mi yard!!” One of the joys of living in Jamaica is being surrounded by an abundance of flora and fruits which grow in the wild or cultivated. This month I would like to give you a tour of “mi yard.” There is so much pleasure for me to nurture the wonderful gifts God has placed on my property.

I will try to give you as vivid a picture of my “living” yard as possible. The land, a little under a half acre, is located about 400′ above the main road on the side of a hill. Instead of a sloping landscape, there are a series of tiers. One third of the land is in front of the house on a rectangular lot. The perimeters are enclosed by walls on three sides and a fence in the rear.

The street side of the front wall is lined with sixteen Ornamental Pineapple plants along with Periwinkles and three short trees which have very sharp pointed leaves(name unknown). On the inside of the wall on the first tier are four varieties of Bougainvillea. Immediately in front of them are Spider Lily plants, a Trumpet tree which has large bell shaped flowers and several other varieties of flowering plants. Between the front wall and the house is a small lawn with dwarfed palm trees. This first tier is centered in front of the house with the driveway on the right and the next tier is on the left. Growing from the right side of the driveway to the patio over the garage is a Garlic plant.

On the second tier is my most prized tree which is an East Indian mango tree whose fruit is one of the sweetest of all the mangos. When they are in season, mid-summer, I am more popular than if I had won the lottery. The front and left side wall of this tier is lined with several more species of flowers and shrubs. In the front
corner is a very statuesque Royal Palm.

From here to the back of the house is the only sloped land in the yard. There is an orange tree in this section that produces both Navel and Ortanique oranges. They each have different seasons which assures me of fresh picked oranges most of the year. The wall in this section has even more varieties of flowering plants and shrubs.

The third tier runs along the back of the house and is mostly a walkway. On the extreme right side, behind the garage, is a 100 square foot vegetable garden. I have grown tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, bush beans, carrots, zucchini and callaloo in this area.

Level four is mostly lawn and fruit trees. Starting on the left, there are Plantain plants, Sour Sop, coconut, lime, breadfruit, sour orange, avocado and another variety of limes. Around of the perimeter of this tier are ferns, Marigolds, Zinnia, Night Blooming Jasmin, hibiscus and numerous other vegetation.

The last tier is less structured than the others. It boasts well over a dozen Banana plants, 2 dozen Scotch Bonnet plants and a half dozen more Plantain plants. Mixed in are Almond trees, another mango tree, yams, 2 kinds of edible pineapple plants and several papaya trees. Along the side walls and the back are more varieties of bushes including aloe plants.

In all I have nearly 150 different varieties and species of flowers, fruits and vegetables. One of the pleasures of living in Jamaica is working “mi yard!” The fast growing bougainvillea need to be trimmed on a weekly basis. Most of the other shrubs and bushes grow much slower. There is always something to do in the yard. Sometimes it is routine tasks like mowing the lawn or trimming the bushes. Other times it is redesigning an area. The options are as endless as my imagination. It is very hard to kill anything in the yard. Sometimes I have accidentally broken the top off of a plant leaving nothing but the stem, but within days new growth begins. After Hurricane Ivan blew over my breadfruit tree leaving only a stump, it has sprung back. Likewise, if I try to remove certain plants, it takes months of pulling out the suckers that still pop up through the ground no matter how careful I was in pulling up all the old roots.

What makes yard work so rewarding is the satisfaction of creating and maintaining the beautiful plant life. At the end of a project or the end of the day there is always pleasure in seeing work accomplished.

About the author

John Casey