Rosalyn Simon is a retired Home Economics graduate and teacher who cultivates a remarkable garden in the village of Johnson’s Point. The garden is about a quarter acre in size, and is planted with trees, shrubs and plants that yield leaves, seeds, flowers, bark or berries for medicinal and culinary herbal preparations.
Planting areas in the garden are separated by narrow gravel walks, and lightly shaded by a high canopy of useful trees. A ginep tree, whose roasted seeds were more prized in the old days than the pale pink fruit pulp, a mango and a tropical gooseberry (also called raspberry), laden with pale green fruit clustered along its branches, compete for space with several varieties of palm, smaller bay and lemon bay trees and the moringa, or tree of life, whose fruit yields an oil that does not go rancid. There is a neem tree, whose leaves, flowers and fruit can all be used for medicinal purposes, and a yellow balsam, a valuable plant with many medicinal uses, also known as the nail polish tree because a broken stem oozes a viscous liquid that can be smeared on the nails and dries to a high gloss. There is also a white willow, and several varieties of hibiscus, whose flowers are used to improve circulation, relieve menstrual cramps and stop bleeding. Other plants include Bird of Paradise,arrowroot, and ginger.
Many smaller plants and shrubs crowd the planting beds: Eye-bright, good for glaucoma and astigmatism; coralita, which quickly grows wild but is useful for the throat; stinging nettle, which can help with prostate problems. Perrywinkle, good for malaria, sore throat, rheumatism, laryngitis, and as an eyewash. And French thyme, curry plant, St. John’s bush, rosemary, several varieties of sage and turmeric, which can be used to treat high blood pressure, jaundice and liver problems. Aloe vera for cooling the skin; dandelion, a tonic herb sometimes called poor man’s lettuce; comfrey, which relieves sinus problems when steeped in hot water so that the steam can be inhaled. The widdy widdy bush, which was reportedly eaten as a staple during the 1951 sugar workers strike when food and money were scarce, and is full of vitamin A and other nutrients. And there is old man’s beard, a parasitic air plant that grows on the branches of tall trees and was used to stuff mattresses long ago.
From this wealth of plant material Rosalyn creates oils, salves, powders and syrups that she believes can treat medical and cosmetic problems. She makes a hair treatment that is good the scalp and thickens and grows hair, a powerfully antibiotic culinary syrup of garlic, a cold and flu oil for external use, and a cough syrup to be ingested. There is also red pepper (Cayenne) ointment for use topically for joint pain before going to bed, an excellent lip balm in several colours, a mosquito repellent that soothes and stops the itch, an aloe vera gel for healing burns, cuts and bruises, and a carrot and avocado oil lotion for smoothing the skin. She makes a foot powder for curing athlete’s foot, and bath salts for relaxation. There are three types of honey; hibiscus, cinnammon and garlic/ginger honey, good for the skin and for circuluation of the blood and there is a fine selection of herbal teas.
Visitors to Rosemac’s Herb Garden include tourists off cruise ships and from hotels, children from local schools, and interested botanists , who come to see an unusual garden cultivated with love and intelligence, and as Rosalyn says with God’s divine guidance.