“See this tree there? That’s proper name is Eline Eline, and they use that to make Channel perfume,” said Mr. Nils Godfrey, from the front of his garden in the middle of George Town. There are all kinds of trees in Mr. Godfrey’s garden, and he uses them for many different things. Next to it is Sweet Sop, a favorite all across the Caribbean (although hardly anybody outside the Caribbean has ever heard of it). Sweet Sop and its sister, Sour Sop are really great for making the most refreshing drinks you’ve ever tasted, using a blender of juicer. Next door to it was a tree that known the world over – a cherry tree, full of cheerful, red, ripe cherries to gladden the heart: “I’ve got a fantastic number of cherries from it. My wife makes a drink from it,” Mr. Godfrey said. He has lived around here, between the Hospital and Police station most of his life, apart from the time when he went to sea, more than 50 years ago, working for the US shipping company National Bulk Carriers, like so many young men of that generation. Mr. Godfrey came home again and settled in this lovely house, made even more special by a lovely garden. Its open spacious, neat, with a nice lawn at the front and is full of many different kinds of trees which have been growing there for years.
But it’s the back garden really gets interesting. Lots of leafy trees are there, and each one is for a purpose. There’s a baby mango tree growing in the shade of a Sweet Sap tree. Sometimes it’s a good idea to think about the next generation of trees. Old trees die, or fall over in hurricanes, just as they do in nature, but in nature, there are always saplings ready to take their place. Nestling beside the mango sapling is a plant with fleshy leaves called the Tree of Life, which loves to grow in shady places, and which is good for all kinds of ailments. We walk past a lovely storage shed, which is so pretty it looks like a storybook cottage, to the place where Mr. Godfrey loves to spend most of his mornings. “Here are my pepper trees,” he says, pointing t row upon row of dark green pepper plants. If you think that Scotch Bonnet peppers are the hottest, think again. These are Big Sun peppers and they will really give your mouth a good burn, if you’re not careful. But restaurants love to buy them, Mr. Godfrey says, they are just that right mixture of hotness and tangy flavor and the restaurants really love them and prefer them over Scotch Bonnets. There are many restaurants in the Cayman Islands and the best ones always need plenty of garden-fresh peppers, and herbs.
“Here are my Starfruits” he said, pointing to a lovely tree full of them. They are called starfruits because when you cut them, they look just like stars, so that as well as tasting delicious, they can make your fruit salads look really decorative, too. “They make a good drink,” Mr Godfrey added. Nearby The breadfruit tree was big, and had many breadfruits on it – it was the tree that caused the Mutiny on The Bounty when the cruel captain of that ship was tasked with getting the tree to the Caribbean from islands in the Pacific. There’s plenty of history in a Caribbean garden.
There is so much to see and taste and smell, too. Not just fruits, but many trees have leaves which you can use as herbs for cooking, or for making tea. Scrunching a particularly fragrant leave from one of his trees, Mr. Godfrey said: “This is Pimento,” and I recognized it as the fragrant herb used in so much Indian cooking. “If you fry fish with these leaves, it makes a beautiful dish, and it also makes a good tea,” he said.