While sitting upstairs on our sundeck this evening, Linda and I were admiring the trees and flowering bushes at Footsteps. We realised that there were memories attached to a great many of the beautiful examples contained inside our grounds. There is of course a story to go with every tree but we have planted in excess of a thousand so Ill pick and choose which seems more manageable.
When Footsteps was just a twinkle in my eye, the land upon which it sat was not more than Gambian bush. It had three or four palm trees but not much else. In the initial stages of our development, we were planting all the time, every day!. The trees at Footsteps have reached a stage in maturity where they supply us with almost all of our fruit. Lemons, limes, oranges, papaya, guava, banana, mango and grapefruit.
Lens grapefruit tree, planted back in 2002 by Len. Fed and watered regularly, mostly by Len who insisted that urinating on it each week was the thing to do in order to have a super-strong tree in the years to come.
In just five years it was fruiting with sweet grapefruit so I guess Len got it right! In 2007, as some of you reading this will know, we fell victim to a horrendous bush fire. It swept through the lodge and took everything including as it turned out, Len, who passed away one month later.
His grapefruit, while badly damaged from the fire was a survivor and began to thrive once more as the rains came. Well, this little tree was not lucky because during the rains it was struck by lightning. It literally was snapped in two. Our gardener said he could still save the tree and proceeded to make a support to hold the tree up and then bandaged it all together. That very same year lens grapefruit was fruiting and has done every year since.
Present-day sees Lens tree face another threat. The whitefly has become a real issue in The Gambia. I remember 10 years back hearing locals discuss the problem of whitefly in the tourist areas. Its damage is enough to kill a tree if left untreated and these days it’s a problem in Gunjur too.
We will overcome and lens tree will be here to serve you all fresh juice each day for many years to come! BTW, if anyone has a suggestion for whitefly here in The Gambia, please let me know.☺️
Planning for the future
This is an Avocado, planted 18 years ago and pictured today 6/8/21. Literally, hundreds of them and this is not our only tree. My only regret with this one is it fruits in August and September so our guests get very few. Our staff are very happy though!
We plant new stuff all the time, I hope I’m still around in another twenty years to see how it all does.
This one pictured below was already at Footsteps when we purchased but only young then at around eight years and to be honest, I didn’t know it was a Rosewood until some years later.
The seeds are loved by Parrots and when they drop make sure you are wearing shoes as they have fine hairs which stick in your feet, ouch!
We planted this Silk Cotton twenty years back. The thorns are to defend themselves from Fig seeds which would eventually strangle the tree left there by birds when defecating. Any bird or mammal risks injury if trying to wipe away sticky seeds from their feathers after consuming figs.
The trees at Footsteps are varied, some produce fruit, some just look nice, but one thing for sure is that they play a vital role in the health of our ecosystem.
It’s all about the birds and bees, isn’t it.
Why not take a stroll around our grounds with our gardener Pappa and learn how locals use trees as a medicine too😀