Sharon Cain presents the Aechmea ‘Loie’s Pride’ (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
When I was a child, I remember helping my mother (now deceased) water and maintain her plants which were potted in old containers such as tin cans, galvanized tubs, jugs and broken cups or anything that may have dirt in it. I guess that’s where the love story started.
As I got older, I remember the first plant I bought was a Boston fern. The fern got too big for its pot and I decided to split it into two plants. I discovered that there were other varieties of ferns, so I started buying a different one at the end of each month when I was paid. I started visiting flower shops and nurseries and invested in other plants and my plant collection grew to include anthuriums, hydrangeas (lacecap, mopheads and incrediball), orchids and a wide variety of aglaonemas, dracaenas, philodendrons, spathiphyllums (peace lilies), sansevieras, palms, among others.
One of the nurseries I visited each month belonged to Rupert Truman. During one of my visits, Truman said to me, “You must have a beautiful garden. I would like to see it. I shrugged and said “not really”. Every month after that, he asked to visit my garden. I finally invited him to my garden and he invited me to become a member of the Jamaica Horticultural Society (JHS). I asked him how I would benefit from becoming a member. He told me that I could display my beautiful plants at the annual flower show and win prizes in the form of ribbons and trophies and maybe sell some of my plants. The sale of my plants was not going to happen at all! However, I became a member in 1984 and I still am.
At my first show at one of JHS’ annual flower shows, I won 15 awards – 10 first place (blue ribbons), 3 second place (red ribbons), and 2 third place (yellow ribbons). Of course, many people offered to buy some of my exhibits and I refused all offers!
Most of my garden is on the hillside and is terraced on four levels. The upper level is flat, the two intermediate levels are slightly inclined and the lower level on the street side is very steep. I often find myself slipping on the lower tier grass while wetting the grass. There is a large naseberry tree (near the bridge on the mid level) which provides a canopy for my shade loving plants.
I start gardening at 5:30 a.m. every morning (once I am able) for at least four hours a day. My gardener, Patrick, comes twice a week. I am also ably assisted by my five-year-old grandson, who is a “gardener-in-training”https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/”garden assistant” and enjoys watering and picking up litter with a leaf rake, makes sure I stay hydrated. He will frequently ask, “Grandmother, are you thirsty now? He is also an excellent tourist guide and knows the names of the plants. The only gardening chore I don’t do is cut the grass.
I do a lot of container gardening which allows me to rotate the pots from time to time. I also plant sugar loaf pineapples, Scotch bonnet peppers and tomatoes. My garden is for all seasons – planted mostly with perennials and supplemented with annuals if needed. I literally ran out of space!
Since COVID-19 where we were commissioned to “tan a yu yaad”, I have developed a passion for succulents and established a succulent and rock garden. During this time, I also “adopted” my route by planting containers at each house and tending to them – what I call my community service.
My kids tell me that my passion for gardening has become an obsession since I retired from the corporate world in 2016. Gardening is therapeutic and involves lots of physical activity that complements a healthy lifestyle. You also get a sense of satisfaction when plants bloom and people admire your garden. I encourage everyone to plant something and watch it grow. Succulents are trendy and don’t require much attention. I deliberately don’t use a watering system as I like to water and have the opportunity to examine the plants for pests or disease.
Coupled with my passion for gardening and the many requests I received, I turned this passion into a business and I embellished and landscaped gardens. My core business is the rental of plants for offices and events.
Editor’s note: Sharon Cain can be contacted @[email protected]
Multi-award winning planter Sharon Cain stands alongside her Joseph’s Coat plant with her variety of leaf shapes, some with thin, narrow wires and others with wide, oval ones. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Sharon Cain takes care of her succulents and cacti. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Cascading Spider Plant (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Succulent head planter (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
A glorious array of Sunpatians (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Vanda orchids in full bloom in a semi-shaded area of the garden (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Peanut cactus is prized for its stunning two-inch blooms in brilliant shades of orange-red. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Blooming hydrangea (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Kalanchoe orgyalis ‘Copper Spoon’ is a highly branched succulent shrub that grows slowly up to six feet (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
The Lacecap hydrangea grows flowers that look like flat caps with frilly edges (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Different types of ferns and caladiums add drama and style to the walkway. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)