Sunday, 12 August 2012

Castleton Gardens

After a month back in Jamaica from my Canadian summer holiday, it was time to get out of Kingston for a long weekend. It is very hot this time of year, with days of very high humidity due to the rainy season.  Once the rains come, then it cools for a day or two and then the temperature is on the rise again . . . 

Kate's Mum is visiting from Florida - even she finds it too hot here! - and they had plans to go up to Frenchman's Cove in Portland parish on the northeast shore. And they didn't have a ride. That was all the encouragement that I needed. There are no nice, air-conditioned buses that go to this part of Jamaica - unlike the ones that do service Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and Santa Cruz and Negril. Only coasters - and that is another story (see previous blogs).

So I rented a car and planned to take Friday off work.  Not wanting to leave two empty seats in the car, Britta and Fred joined us.  I have driven the route from Kingston to Port Antonio several times - very twisty, beautiful and interesting - and always passed Castleton Gardens on a lonely stretch in the mountains, though did not know much about it and difficult to find out any information. This time we planned to stop and take a look.  

So we did and it was beautiful.  As so many places in Jamaica, it is long past its glory days however giving you a glimpse of those days.  The gardens are vast, covering both sides of the road.  There are no maps, booklets or information, etc. However a deaf tour guide did attach himself to us and showed us many treasures and surprises. He was a gardeners at Castleton for many years and then let go (retired is probably the more appropriate term) but he is allowed to approach visitors and earns a small living from our donations.  Of course, because he is deaf you can't ask any questions . . .  you just follow along and listen.  We never did find out his name. 
Hope you like pictures of flowers because there is a lot of them.

The Wag Water River in Castleton Gardens.

Fred and Britta

Have no idea what plant this is, but impressive.  I have a book on Flowers of Jamaica but left it home in Kingston.  How useful is that?

Crossing the road to the upper section of the gardens.

The gardens are about 145 years old, originally a sugar plantation and established by the plantation owner and named after him. There are many species imported from all over the world.

Some nicely shaded picnic areas throughout the lower gardens. It was very quiet on a Friday morning, though would expect it to be popular with families on the weekends.

This feathery tree flower was lovely.  Can't wait to get home and look it up.

Britta studying a most interest growth around the base of a very tall tree. 

I always like it when I get a serendipitous shot, such as the ant exploring the flower :-)

Kate and her Mum, Jinty.

Our deaf tour guide.  I rather liked his "Barbie" bag.

A vestige of glory days . . . 

Hibiscus after a rain shower.

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