Mrs Renwick’s Sunnyside Garden, Grenada

Trips from cruise ships can be a formulaic exercise, fun but, well, formulaic. Our January 2020 visit to Jean Renwick’s garden on the fertile island of Grenada in the Southern Caribbean was certainly slickly organised as a convoy of minibuses sped up the hillside, avoiding those earlier minibuses speeding down. The drivers chatted together as we clambered out to be greeted by giant tortoises and Jean’s son, ‘Randy by name, randy by nature.’

Arriving at Sunnyside Garden, Jean Renwick looking down from her balcony.
Randy from his Facebook page.
Entertainment for the visitors on arrival.
Randy Renwick greets visitors with a lively history of the garden. His hand might just be discerned if you follow the eyes.

The garden was first landscaped in the early 1990s and wrecked by a hurricane in 2004. The reliable rainfall, summer temperatures and rich volcanic soil are the aces in the pack. Everything grows profusely so initial planting and subsequent recovery were easier than in a less agreeable climate. But Mrs Renwick had the perfect eye and determination. She told us how in the early days she had smuggled, er imported, plants and seeds to the island. The result is a lush paradise.

The garden tour is well organised.
Lush plants and a backdrop to die for.
The local branch of the RHS meets on the formal lawn or the cooler veranda.
Fish also love to devour insects.

Our guide explained the medicinal qualities of the plants; annato or lipstick plant, the seeds used to rouge the lips of little girls and, as we discovered for ourselves, visitors; and citrus fruits, palm trees and a myriad plants we can dream of.

Our guide certainly knew his onions. It was a comprehensive tour.

Again formulaically perhaps but the climax of the visit was a drink of rum punch on the veranda and welcome indeed. Though as pleasurable was a little glance at Jean’s delightful home. More precious was an opportunity to chat to the lady herself and congratulate her on a garden that surpassed expectations and the cruise formula.

Veranda, again taken from the garden’s Facebook pages.
A collage of snaps from inside the house.

And finally …

Jean Renwick in her garden.
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The Not So Definitive Guide To Labels

The bane of my life. Well, perhaps not, energy or the lack of it is. Truth to tell I don’t like labels, they fail to add anything to a garden, have zilch visual appeal – even those inordinately pricey slate ones I was given as a gift a few years ago and which are treasured in a drawer in my potting shed workbench –  but given a proneness to collect plants abetted by a tendency to forget the what, when and wheres, labels are an indispensable fact of my gardening life. So here are a few observations.

Not my own label or alpine house sadly. RHS Harlow Carr

White labels are a definite no no. They look like a plant graveyard and, my goodness, I’ve lost enough plants to fill one. They detract from garden or cyclamen. So not for me though, as can be seen, I discovered two remnants on the estate this morning.

Cyclamen coum just emerging

Aluminium labels were meant to be the answer especially when my rather gauche handwriting is aided and abetted by a stylish graphite pencil. It is satisfying to use graphite on metal, therapeutic. Much superior to plastic, even without the distaste one has for the stuff these days. And yet …. I have so many that are bent and twisted even though the writing is still legible enough to read five years since I first bought them. Aluminium is bendy, flimsy, garden strimmers adore them, not cheap and fade into the background. That said, I still use them.

Black Wooden Labels – and I have a box stuffed full of them – were purchased as an environmental effort and Ebay impulse. They look great with a white marker. For a short while. Pretty basic observation really though I missed it – wood rots down and swiftly with it. Total waste of time, marker fluid, money. I haven’t a clue what I planted in Spring and early summer.

Wooden labels, environmentally sound, practically unsound.
Aluminium labels that won’t accept marker pen.

However the prize for the worst purchase ever in this context goes to a box of sturdy Shiny Aluminium Labels able to withstand nuclear detonations but not take marker ink.

So I have settled on the above Black Plastic Labels, 15cm long, 1.7cm wide with Pentel white marker pens, though other brands are available. The pens are not as easy to work with as graphite pencils. Unfortunately graphite does not work on black ….. Crucially the labels are unobtrusive in a garden setting. I can’t vouch for the durability of the ink and a friend has warned me about the chalk in some brands that fades quickly. I’ve not checked that out with Pentel yet. The writing shows no evidence of fading. With neater handwriting than my own they look great in pots, though require an accompanying plant to complete the look.

Lost Label

Last year at this time we were preparing to set off for Central America and the Caribbean for five weeks of welcome sun. A year previous to that I’d lost several snowdrops and many labels and pots as torrential rain, wind and pathetic carpentry completely collapsed two display benches strapped together for mutual support. Anyway the support failed, ended in divorce and I’m still counting the cost as I’ve been unable to identify or locate prized specimens. Which brings me to this unnamed pot. On January 3rd 2019 when we said goodbye to winter and set out for summer in a taxi it was as it is when photographed this very morning before the snow came down and covered the weeds. I never did discover what variety it is. And now is almost the moment, the denouement. What will it be? The excitement is too much to bear. Meanwhile I’ve done two things with potted snowdrops: heavy terracotta pots for bottom shelves, plastic for the top. No more collapses. Oh, and I’ve planted far more snowdrops in the borders and mislaid lots of labels as herbaceous plants throw them about like jetsam. Keep checking in for the big reveal. Will I be able to attach a label?

What will this snowdrop be? To be revealed….

Welcome to 2021. A better year.

I have already posted one photograph from our granddaughter, Daisy. ‘My Galanthus Garden’ is a gardening blog but given an absence of colour in the garden and a little time before I can post anything worthwhile from our little plot I hope this offering is of interest. Daisy is 12 and seemingly always experimenting in her art. I thought this particularly nice. She has her own Instagram account and her range, development and talent is clear.

Daisy’s Instagram