Garden Club beautifying Seafarer’s Hall

The Garden Club of Grand Cayman has begun a signature project in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

With the start of the rainy season, the group is landscaping the Seafarer’s Hall grounds using a combination of native and traditional plants, states a press release.

Lora, Joyce, Rob and Lois

Lora Friefeld, Joyce Dunbar, Rob Bennett and Lois Blumenthal dig in at the Seafarers Hall as their signature landscaping project for the Garden Clubs fiftieth Anniversary gets under way. Photo: Submitted

The multifaceted project will feature a shady picnic area along with native butterfly larval and nectaring plants, a tribute to Seafarers of the past that includes some of the trees used in shipbuilding. The grounds will also include a mini-woodland to benefit Cayman’s storm-battered birds, provide a fruit tree area, a traditional old-time flowering mini-garden and easy-maintenance native plant landscaping for the parking lot area.

‘An important part of the project is the mini-woodland of trees that are most beneficial to birds here. We understand that birds will use a grouping of trees more readily than single trees,’ said Lois Blumenthal, president of the Garden Club.

‘We used a list available on www.caymanwildlife.orgcompiled by Patricia Bradley and Ann Stafford. The challenges have been procuring the native trees and working within the planned design for the parking lot and memorial plaza, but we’ve put in quite a lot of plants within those constraints and anticipate planting more during this rainy season.’

The Garden Club hopes that this project will serve as a demonstration of how to combine traditional classic landscaping designs in a palate that mixes native Caymanian plants and exotics.

‘At present, we can only work on the periphery of the property,’ explained Rob Bennett, long-time Garden Club member and landscaper.

‘When the parking lot and memorial plaza are finished, we will be adding more plants and applying the final touches, but for now, it is important to get as many trees as possible in the ground so that they can begin to gain size. Trees take years to mature and this is a garden featuring mostly trees. We’ve put in some traditional fruit trees, around an existing Mango too, and the Seafarer’s are already looking forward to the harvest.’

The Garden Club expressed its gratitude to Heather Bodden and the Cayman Islands Beautification Committee for donating part of the funds for the project.

Trees planted so far include Seagrape, Popnut, Mahogany, Broadleaf, Whitewood, Cabbage Tree Red Birch, Bitterplum, Smokewood, Cabbage Tree, Silver Thatch, Bull Thatch, Royal Palm, Calabash and Poincianas as well Breadfruit, Lime, Naseberry, two Sour Oranges (one for possible future grafting) and Sweetsop.

Some of the hedging and lower foliage is also in place including old time Crotans and Sleeping Hibiscus, Periwinkle, Shower of Gold, Coffee Rose, Mulberry, Giant Milkweed, Headache Bush, Duppy Bush, Rosemary, Wild Jasmine, Aloes and Catbush (also called Dashalong or Buttercup). When the parking lot is complete the group will install a colourful flowering traditional garden.

Garden Club members enjoyed meeting the Seafarers and felt that the collaboration was a great success.

‘The Seafarers know their native trees and they have a good understanding of what we are trying to do here,’ said Ms Blumenthal. ‘This project is a real pleasure to be a part of. It’s fun, healthy outdoor activity for us and an important part of the Garden Club’s purpose and mandate. It is a real cooperative effort as well.’

To assist the hard-wording Garden Club crew, Mike Plathe and Rob Bennett provided workers and procured materials. Rob also applied his experiences post-Ivan with plant survival rates after salt water flooding to help determine which trees would do best in the area.

Lora Friefeld brought artistic talent and classic landscaping techniques to the project and several Garden Club members grew plants at home to donate.

More funding will be needed to complete this and other projects, so interested sponsors should contact the Garden Club if they would like to help.

FYI

The Garden Club of Grand Cayman meets monthly. New members are always welcome. Contact Selma Silva at 925-5821 or Lucinda Cruickshank at 949-3370 or Lois Blumenthal at 916-6784 or email [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]. Look for the booth at [email protected]’s on 27 January.

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