Verdan and the Secret Garden

As promised… here’s more on Verdan ๐Ÿ™‚


Verdan started with Guavaberry 26 years ago. She is mother to four children between the ages of 6 And 25. Her eldest daughter is studying in Puerto Rico, her eldest son is back home in Dominica, and her two youngest are in school here in Virgin Gorda.

She is usually tucked away in the laundry making sure all the linens are in order, the beach towels are nice and fluffy, and rescuing those poor stuffed animals that sometimes get tangled up in sheet change day.

However, now that Irma has passed, and our laundry is non-operational, Verdan has escaped! She jumped at the opportunity to dive into the gardens and has been on site since the very first day after Irma.

Actually, she and her family rode out the storm on property in Lime Tree house. Prior to the hurricane she came to us and asked if it would be okay if she, her husband and their two young children stayed there for the storm. They didn’t feel the rental house they lived in would be strong enough to withstand the winds…. and they were right. Their house got completely demolished. However, so did Lime Tree. Luckily, they managed to safely shelter in the back bedroom for the first half of the storm while the living room was being ripped away. Once the calm of the eye came, they made their way down to the office and sheltered there for the second half.

After the storm had passed that afternoon, Verdan’s husband (Marcel) chopped his way down to Tina’s house with a machete, taking along two guests who had also been sheltering at the office. From the office they could see that Tina’s house was torn apart, so the three of them came to make sure Tina, Michelle and her husband, and the dogs were safe… which they were. Marcel is a master with a machete!

The morning after Irma both Marcel and Verdan were out with their machetes. The pair of them are absolute machines! They took it upon themselves to start clearing a way out to the main road. They made their way by foot, with their two young children, back into town to see how their rental house fared. They came back to Guavaberry after seeing their home was flattened. However, that hasn’t stopped them.

They stayed a couple of nights here at the office in the lounge and then Tina offered them Tulip house as an alternate solution. The roof was leaking, but could be tarped, and it was only a one bedroom house for the four of them, but they were grateful still. They have been living at Tulip since Irma. They have set up a portable generator so they can run some electrics, tarped up the roof to hold off the leaks, set up buckets for washing and lines for drying. They are truly a hard-working family. Even into the early evening hours you could hear the chainsaws running and you knew they were still out in the yard clearing the downed trees.

Fast forward now three months post Irma and the gardens are looking spectacular! Verdan is out there every day with a weed wacker, machete, mower, rake… you name it… she can use it! A real power house of a woman ๐Ÿ™‚

Verdan gets her love of gardening from her mother. She is one of 8 children and growing up her mother would always select her to plant food in the garden. One day Verdan decided to ask her mother “Why does she always pick her to plant”. Her mother replied “Because everything you plant flourishes”. Her mother couldn’t have been more correct! it is amazing to see what Verdan can grow.

A few years ago Verdan asked if she could plant a vegetable patch in front of Jasmine house. Sure we said! We were thinking probably a few pumpkins and bananas… little did we know what she was really capable of. Today (post Irma) you can see all sorts of goodies growing. She’s got watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkin, sorrel, Barbados plums, bananas, okra, pineapple, golden apples, coconuts, sweet potatoes and so much more. I’m sure there are some root vegetables buried in there somewhere! Her papaya trees were knocked down, but she will get those back in a hurry.

Her favorite things to grow are watermelon and bananas, because those are what she likes best to eat. The hardest thing she’s ever grown… strawberries! Yes, she actually managed to grow strawberries on Virgin Gorda. Now you can see that her mother really was right! There are still things she has yet to plant but she will one day. Top on her list to try growing are grapes and wild berries.

If you are around and see her in her “secret” garden she is more than happy to give you a tour! If you are lucky something will be ready to sample as well ๐Ÿ™‚ She loves to share her harvest and will often bring baskets of goodies to the office to share. We never say no, and our tummies are happy for it. We can’t wait to see what comes in the door next!

3 thoughts on “Verdan and the Secret Garden

  1. Verdan saved our vacation one year when she located daughter Emily’s baby blankets (aka “din, dins”). They had been rolled up in the sheets. We visited the laundry and there they were, clean and ready to be returned. My family will never forget the warmth and kindness of the Guava Girls nor the beauty of your enchanted gardens. May you all be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Verdan truly is amazing with her “green thumb”. All of the goodies she has growing now sound delicious EXCEPT for the golden apples. I’d have to say that I’m no fan of those…… Great job, Verdan! and what a positive, inspiring blog post–thanks!


  3. We loved reading Verdan’s story, and can attest to the bounty found in her “secret garden.” Amazing that she was able to grow strawberries on VG! We didn’t catch a glimpse of those when we explored her garden, but maybe next time! We do remember, though, the wonderful scent of the pineapples that were in various stages of popping up through the ground. It’s so heart-warming to see these pictures of the beautiful gardens that have come back to brilliant life, and to learn about how hard Verdan and Marcel have worked to nurture them. Thanks so much for this blog post; we’d love to see more posts featuring some of the other multi-talented Guavaberry ladies! One final observation – it seems like Verdan’s name was well-chosen. Verdant: “green with growing plants.” True, there’s no letter t on the end of Verdan’s name, but close enough!


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