It was a fall evening some years ago, just before the golden hour (my favourite time of the day). My friend Laura was headed out to Humber Nurseries to take some photos in their private garden and offered to take me along. Not one to forgo a chance to get out of the city or into private gardens, I went along and took with me my digital and one film camera.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) has been making a yearly appearance in my garden in some way or another for some time now, but never like this. My new yard’s sun and sandy, well-draining soil turned out to be the perfect place to grow the sort of plant I have only seen in the tropics. Until now.
I took this photo on December 13, 2009, our third day in Dominica but our first in the little cottage we would stay in for the remainder of the trip. Come to think of it, that’s not entirely true. We stayed in a much, much smaller cottage below it the night I took this picture, a tiny room I dubbed “The Prison Cell” for the feelings of encasement and discomfort we felt in there.
After unpacking our bags for the umpteenth time, we took a walk further up the mountain to check out the neighbourhood and ended up at the top of Jack’s Walk, a popular tourist lookout point with a path that descends into the Botanical Garden below. Throughout our trip, while trudging up and down the mountain (sweat pouring down our faces and backs), we passed countless vans loaded up with cruise ship tourists on their way to the top to get the view of Roseau below.
Look up Dominica on Flickr, and 90% of the photos are of that view or the view in the opposite direction taken from the ship. Cruise ship tourists spend no more than 6 or so hours on the island, and few go beyond that quick jaunt up the mountain. Dominica is filled beyond capacity with treasures — those tourists have missed literally everything.
I’m sorry I can’t tell you any botanical information about the grass in this photo — I haven’t a clue what it is other than pretty. The reason I chose this photo is because today is our 17th anniversary and I wanted to choose a photo that reminds me of Davin. When I look at this photo I remember that day and the joy-filled smile on Davin’s face, meeting the local Snackette owner and discovering bush rum, the mango we picked off the ground only minutes before, and our excited talk that a week in and we had already had so many adventures and yet our trip had only just begun. We still had weeks of free time remaining that we would spend together without schedules, obligations, or jobs to get to.
If you’d like to see more pictures from our trip (botanical and not), Davin has posted some of his film here and here. I still have a giant bag of undeveloped film and an equally giant bag of developed film that I have yet to scan. However, I try to make time to post here now and again.
It’s the very best time of the year for grasses right now. Miscanthus is a ridiculously tall grass — this particular variety comes in at about 15′. I like the way light is caught by the plumes making them look a bit like a water fountain.
I took this picture at the Montreal Botanical Gardens where to my delight they had a bed of cereal grains growing in the edible garden section. I love this place.
The name was too long to put in the title line so here it is: Sorghum bicolor gr. Saccharatum ‘Black African’.
The name gave me some clues to its usage and in looking it up I have discovered that it is indeed used to produce a sweetener called sorghum syrup. The stalks are sometimes made into ethanol.
The internet also tells me that it is believed that the crop was introduced into the Unites States by slaves who brought seeds with them from West Africa.