The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

West African gardening

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5. Gardening on the Western Coast of Africa 828. Gardening can hardly be said to exist in a country which can scarcely be considered within the pale of civilisation ; but it may be interesting to notice some of the flowers and fruits which are indigenous in the neighbourhood of that deleterious settlement, Sierra Leone. It is remarkable, that the pine-apple is very abundant in the woods here; and the fruit, Mr. George Don assures us, is, even in a wild state, equal or superior to any he has tasted in England. Tho pine-apple is always found in the shade; and, when accompanied by much decayed vegetable matter and moisture, attains an extraordinary size of foliage, and forms an impenetrable thicket, destroying every other plant except the timber trees over it, and obstructing the progress of the passenger in every direction. The peach of Sierra Leone (the Sarcocephalus esculentus of Afzelius) is one of the most valuable of the tree fruits. The plant grows in abundance in low places over the whole country, and generally attains the height of from ten to fifteen feet. The fruit is a large fleshy substance, with a brown granulated surface, and a hard but eatable core, about one fourth of the diameter of the fruit, and about the consistence of the centre of a pine-apple. Guava and banana trees are abundant at Sierra Leone; and tamarinds, limes, oranges, plantains, papaw, and a variety of pumpkins, have been introduced there by the settlers. The vine produces grapes twice a year. Among the ornamental plants, one of the finest is the Combretum comosum, which covers the low tress with one blazing surface of scarlet.