The Garden Guide

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

West Indies coffee plantations

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931. Coffee plantations in the West Indies. The coffee plantations, Mr. Otto informs us, consist only of shrubs, which are never allowed to grow up into trees, probably because they are more productive in this state, and the coffee is more easily gathered. ' Musa sapientum, M. paradisiaca, and Oreodoxa regia grow between the coffee shrubs; the latter, however, frequently loses its fronds, which are taken off, partly because when the wind is high they are blown down and injure the coffee shrubs, and partly because they are in request as a covering for the roofs of the houses. In another plantation,' continues Mr. Otto, 'I saw an avenue of the same sort which led to the dwelling-house, and the trees entirely consisted of stems without fronds, which gave more the appearance of rows of pillars than of an avenue of palms.' In many places, Mr. Otto observes, the bananas which are planted between the rows of the coffee plantations ' have not a very agreeable appearance. The leaves hang down from the trees in a half-withered state, and those that are fresh are tattered and torn by the wind, as if it had been done with some particular intention. If the fruit has been taken from the stem, ripe or unripe, it is cut down, and left to lie there till destroyed by the weather. 'When the palms are suffered to grow in their natural state, they certainly look extremely well, because they are as seldom attacked by insects as the coffee; but the yellow spots on the leaves, which so much disfigure our palms at home, are also seen here.' (Otto, as quoted in Gard Mag. for 1842, p. 235.)