The Jasmine tree in our office garden is in full bloom, its fragrance fills your nostrils the moment you step through our little gate. We sometimes pick the flowers and scatter them around the office. It makes everyone happy, especially as we know that the bloom is fleeting and we have it only for a short while.
Jasmine is one of the beneficial trees growing at our Heritage Garden at Roche Caiman. Beneficial plants are grown in organic gardens for their aesthetic, culinary, medicinal, and biodiversity value. If the tree, plant or shrub can combine as many of these values as possible then it’s worth having. Jasmine is well known for its fragrance, also said to have sedative properties useful in aromatherapy to reduce stress. The flower and leaves can be used to make Jasmine tea.
Our Jasmine tree, apart from its heady fragrance when it flowers, attracts beneficial wildlife to our garden.
The more forms of beneficial wildlife a garden has the better as gardens function as whole ecosystems.
Bees for example are favoured for their role in pollination. It is said that one in three bites of food can be attributed to a pollinator.
These can be medicinal plants like the Yellow alder (Koket) the woody herb, which produces bright yellow flowers that attract bees.
We grow other trees at the Heritage Garden for their culinary, medicinal and cultural value. The Cinnamon tree for example needs no explanation – it is part of our history and culture. And neither does the Vanilla vine.
The Noni tree has recently become popular in Seychelles because of its medicinal properties. Juice from the Noni fruit is drunk as a health tonic and is said to cure a wide array of illnesses. Although it is the opposite of the Jasmine with a foul smelling fruit, the trees grow side by side in our garden.
Other trees are part of what we call edible landscaping – they are grown for their produce. These are mostly grown for fruit like custard apple, lemon, guava, sweet sop, soursop, bilimbi and star fruit. The Passion fruit vine is both decorative – growing on an attractive trellis under which one can relax and also bears the much loved passion fruit.
Gardens also need shade especially for vegetables and herbs that don’t do well in full sunlight. So some trees are planted for this purpose. A mixture of plants is also less susceptible to attacks by pests and diseases.
What about you? What beneficial plants do you have or are thinking of planting?