Shade House

Photo by Gayla Trail

It’s so hot and humid in Cuba they’ve got airy shade “houses” to protect orchids and other tropicals from the intense sun while the rest of us must resort to expensive greenhouses in order to gather as much light and humidity as possible.

I took this photo at Jardin Gran Piedre, a botanical garden located up in the Sierra Maestra mountains on the site of an old coffee plantation. [You can read about our harried trip up to the garden here.] The plantation was once owned by the French and operated on the forced labor of Haitian slaves. The place operates as a tourist site and commercial Bird of Paradise flower grow-op but the bones of the old plantation still remains. The wall in this photo that now houses orchids and bromeliads probably used to be the sides of slave quarters. Opposite to this wall and not seen in the photo were intact slave houses now functioning as storage sheds for gardening tools and equipment.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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