Our guests and visitors are invited to explore the tropical gardens of the Calabash Hotel.
Start on the hotel car park, near the tennis court at the bottom of the sketch map.
A booklet describing the full tour of the garden is available from Reception and is sold in aid of a local children’s home.
1. BANANA Family: Musaceae Musa sapientum
This is the most commonly eaten raw banana. A coarser variety, Musa paradisiacal, is not eaten raw but is usually boiled or fried. Botanically, it is a perennial herb and can grow to a height of twenty-five feet (8 m) or more. The flowers are covered with long reddish-purple bracts on long stalks. The plant flowers and fruits throughout the year but only the first group of flowers develop into fruit. After fruiting, it dies and is cut back, allowing new suckers to grow from the root stock. The banana originated in the Indo-Malaysian region and is now found throughout the tropics.
2. FRANGIPANI Family: Apocynaceae
Also known as the Pagoda or Temple Tree, colours range from pink to reddish-orange, yellow and white. It flowers almost continuously, sheding its dark green leaves in the dry season. The Frangipani regularly hosts giant caterpillars, as thick as a man’s thumb and to eight inches (20 cms) long. They strip the foliage, thereby encouraging new growth. When asked what sort of butterflies or moths would eventually emerge from these huge caterpillars, a Calabash receptionist gave it a moment’s thought and replied ‘Big ones!
3. OLEANDER Family: Apocynaceae Nerum Oleander
The shrub can grow up to twenty-five feet (8 m) high or can be trimmed to form a low hedge. It flowers profusely and continuously with pink, red, white or cream blossoms. All parts of the plant are poisonous and people have died after eating food cooked on oleander wood fires. It originates in the Mediterranean and was well known to the ancient Romans.
4. RANGOON VINE Family: Combretaceae Quisqualis indica
This ligneus shrub has as many names as it has locations across the world. It is a vine with red flower clusters originally from Asia. The Latin name translates as What is that?
5. SAGO PALM Family: Cycadacae Cycas revoluta
It is not a palm but a Cycad, a different type of plant and of very primitive origins. Fossils have been found across the world and it appears to have evolved little since the days of the dinosaurs. All parts of the Sago palm are extremely poisonous to cats and dogs, with the seeds (nuts) being the most toxic part of the plant. Cycasin is the primary active toxic agent and causes severe liver failure in dogs often within 15 minutes of ingestion.
6. WATER LILIES Family: Nymphaeaceae
The Nymphaea family contains about 35 species across the Northern Hemisphere. The leaves of this family of lilies are distinguished by a radial notch. Tropical water lilies can bloom either during the day or at night, and are the only group to contain blue-flowered plants. Note as you pass by in the evening that the blooms will have closed up at night.
7. THUNBERGIA Family: Acanthus Thunbergia grandiflora
The Thunbergia, or Sky Flower or Bengal Trumpet festoons the ceiling of the Rhodes Restaurant at the Calabash Hotel. The funnel shaped flowers are of the gentlest and softest blue with a pale yellow throat. A native of India, it flowers throughout the year. It is a favourite with the owner’s family and forms part of the hotel’s motif.
8. CANNA LILY Family: Cannaceae
There are about sixty species of this fairly small family of plants which originates from South America. The plants grow to about four feet (1.25 m) high and can form spectacular beds of vivid colour. Although there are yellow and reddish purple varieties, the striking red remains the most popular. (The location is close to the patio of a guest suite. Please respect the privacy of guests if taking a closer look or a photograph.) . There are more specimens of the yellow version adjacent to the path leading to the Scubatech diving centre.
9. HIBISCUS Family: Malvacaea
About 200 species are found throughout the Caribbean, red, white, pink and yellow being found most widely. The petals form a large trumpet shaped corolla which can be up to five inches (125 mm) across. The flowers of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis can be used to clean and restore the shine to black shoes. Hibiscus esculentus produces the okra fruit, widely used in cooking. Each flower lasts only one day and drops to the ground at night fall.
10. FLAMBOYANT TREE Family: Lewguminoseae
The Poinciana is universally known as the Flamboyant Tree. It grows to almost forty feet (12 m) high. The mature specimen at the Calabash Hotel is currently ‘in recovery’ after some radical surgery that will renew its growth. The dense clusters of orchid-like flowers are followed by the fern-like foliage. The two feet (60 cms) long seed pods form during the dry season after the flowers and leaves have been shed
11. GINGER Family: Zingerberaceae Alpina purpurata
Common throughout the Caribbean, the red ginger plant is popular in ornamental gardens and floral displays. The red ‘flowers’ are waxy looking bracts, the real flower, white and quite small, is hidden inconspicuously inside. The flower blooms throughout the year. It originates in South East Asia.
12. BOURGANVILLEA Family: Nyctaginaceae
Also sometimes known as the Paper Flower, this is one of the most popular and common ornamental vines and shrubs in the Caribbean. Most commonly seen as red, the colours range from white through orange and pinks to a deep magenta and purple.
Ask at Reception for a booklet that describes the full garden tour and help us to support our local children’s home