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Gardens of the World ...Eastern Horticultural Club hosts fifth annual Plant and Garden Show

Sunday, June 8, 2014
Etlingera elatior (also known as Torch Ginger, bunga kantan, Red Ginger Lily, Torch Lily, Wild Ginger, Combrang, Bunga Kantan, Philippine Wax Flower, Xiang Bao Jiaing, Indonesian Tall Ginger, Boca de Dragón, Rose de Porcelaine, Porcelain Rose) is a species of herbaceous perennial plant. This was one of many cut flowers on sale at last year’s plant show by the Eastern Horticultural Club. PHOTOs: SHEREEN ALI

There's a special passionate tranquility about gardeners. They get excited at playing in the dirt: running their fingers through a good mulch mixture, or discussing the best way to grow tomatoes, herbs, or flowers. From the humble backyard pepper planter to cultivators of exotic flowers, gardening appeals to all ages and communities, offering healthy exercise, stress release and a satisfying delight, even bliss, when the seeds or seedlings you have planted months ago bloom into beautiful mature plants. “Our members have a wide range of interests,” says Wilma Charles, president of the Eastern Horticultural  Club which is hosting its fifth annual Plant and Garden Show this weekend. “Many like to grow flower gardens in their front yard, and plant vegetables in the back. Others are keen on flower arranging, or learning how to landscape their gardens. Yet others are interested in handicrafts related to gardening or plants—such as making baskets. Even if you have limited space, and like gardening, there is always a way—container gardening, for instance,” says Charles.


Plant displays and 50 booths
Zalayhar Hassanali formally opened the EHC Garden Show yesterday morning. This year, more than 50 participants are selling plants, pots, baskets, earth crystals, exotic orchids, water fountains and other garden-related matter in their booths. “The displays this year will be really fantastic,” says Charles, explaining: “This year, the Elk Grove Garden Club of California will take part, with an exhibit featuring miniature gardens, an enchanting fairy garden and terrariums. Other exhibits include a Japanese raked stone garden, orchid displays, a wall garden by Imelda Rennie, and different displays by our members including herb gardens.” For gardening fanatics and amateurs alike, there will be a host of plants, pots, mulch, fertilizers and more on sale. There will also be corn soup, sandwiches and other snacks and drinks on sale in a very family-friendly environment. An education booth will test your knowledge of plants, fruits and herbs, while folks keen on learning more specific information can get free agricultural advice.


Birth of the club
The Eastern Horticultural Club club started just five years ago with a few gardening enthusiasts who had taken some courses run by the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Foresty, and Namdevco. “Some of us had met at the Farmer's Training Centre in Centeno. We shared a similar interest, and at first there were just eight of us,” says Wilma Charles. “Then in 2010 we participated in the Mango Festival at UWI, and after that the club really mushroomed. In November 2010 we launched our club, and had our first Plant and Garden Show. “There is a need for clubs like ours here,” believes Charles: “Because of the population shift, the East is growing so rapidly, and many do not want to fight traffic to go to Port of Spain. People from Maloney to Trincity to Tacarigua have homes here and want to develop their gardens.” 


Expertise in the East

“We have many good agricultural institutions right here in the east – UWI, UTT, Cardi, IICA,” says Charles. “And we can access experts such as Prof Julian Duncan and Wendy Lee Yuen to educate us. Once a month we have meetings at the St Joseph Community Centre on Market Street, St Joseph, and have guest speakers.” Past speakers at the Club have included Dr Compton Seaforth (a botanical chemist, and leading Caribbean herbal scientist) who has talked about medicinal plants; Prof Duncan on inflorescence; and Trinidad Cement Limited on stepping stones as garden landscaping elements. Representatives from Oscar Francois Ltd have talked about natural herbs and pesticides. 


Healthy community activity
The Club is a growing community network whose members are tapping into citizen's thirst for peaceful gardening and community-related activities. The Club not only promotes horticulture, botany and landscape design, but also is interested in environmental protection – curbing bush fires, litter and annual flooding in the East. The Club would like to begin outreach programmes in schools in the north eastern division, to reach out to children and youth. Says Wilma Charles: “We are all weary of the indiscipline, the fighting and the stabbings that are taking place in our schools today. We want to let our children experience the joy of planting a seed or flowering plant and see it grow and blossom into a beautiful tree or a source of food. We want to reach the softer, gentler side of our children, the future of T&T.”


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