Gardens of Savaii
Gardeners - the tropical islands of Samoa are much more than coconut palms and golden beaches. Nearly every house has a beautifully tended tropical ornamental garden. Samoa is a garden visitor's paradise!
A Beautiful Savaii Garden
Samoa has the feel of a secret holiday destination, hidden away from the so-called comforts (and progress?) of fast food chains and tour buses. It's unspoilt, small and friendly. I thought that the gardener in me would get a well-earned rest - I'd spend all my time swimming with fishes, reading in the shade of coconut palms, and gently sipping on bottled water. My goodness, I was so wrong!
Both islands (Upolo and Savai'i) were overflowing with real gardens! They were first admired from our taxi-van as we zoomed around the coast of Savai'i to our resort, Stevensons at Manase. It seemed that every house (fale) in every village had a carefully tended ornamental garden, filled with beautifully coloured foliage plants, flowering shrubs, and green shade trees and palms. I was so excited!
Tropical Hedge by Road-Side
Hedges and Edges
Every village also had beautiful hedges lining the roadside. These were dead straight rows of tropical plants, often built from the beautiful red, yellow and green Codiaeum Variegatum. They were all neatly trimmed waist high, and some had white painted rock edging. Occasionally, and oddly around some of the many colourful churches, there would be fences of wood and netting.
Some of the villages used bright plastic wheelie-bins for their rubbish, and these all had their own little resting place, carefully marked squares edged with painted stones.
I asked about the gardeners (four rather burly 'boys') who worked at our beach resort. Their job was to rake up dead leaves, trim the hedges, and trim the trees to keep them looking 'pretty'. They would plant a new hedge simply by pushing the prunings into the sand-soil. They liked to have edges (using stones or plants) for paths and walkways. When was the right time to plant new hedges? The gardeners simply knew when - nothing ever died.
I met many village ladies weeding their front gardens. Trimming the tropical hedge seemed to be the man's job, needing a keen horizontal eye and the upper arm strength to wield a machete. Hibiscus blooms (alternating salmon pink and deep red) were often arranged on skewers and poked into green plants, adding colour. They would last one day.
Samoa (quite near the equator) has moderate tropical temperatures, usually in the high twenties Celsius, and gentle warm rain. There are 26 volcanoes on the big island of Savai'i. Some houses grew their colourful shrubs in a neat square rockery filled with the dark volcanic rocks. Others used the rocks for their garden walls.
Some homes were built directly on lava fields, where vegetation struggled to grow in cracks and crevices. Others had the rain forest in their backyard - a backdrop of towering coconut palms, or vine-covered trees.
A lovely country, with lovely gardens. A gardener's paradise!
Moosey stayed at Stevensons at Manase in a beach fale. She walked, swam in her turquoise blue UV top and board shorts, snoozed, took photographs, and peered at unknown tropical plants for eight lovely days.