Richardson's Ornamental Plants

By Victor Laptiste

Nestled in a cool gently sloping plot just after the historic Spring Garden Moravian Church/School on Orange Hill Road is an amazing collection of over 250 species of indigenous and exotic ornamental plants.

For close to three decades Anthony and Ingrid Richardson have transformed their surroundings into a virtual 'Garden of Eden'; there are more than five thousand plants that need their attention – anthuriums, begonias, crotons, joseph's coat, impatiens, etc.; there are plants in pots, bags, troughs, on trees, hanging plants and water lilies in ancient coppers and bird baths.

Ingrid is a professional clothes designer and that creativity and neatness can be seen in the beauty, colour scheme and layout of the garden. Anthony is a retired Fire Sub Station Officer and his energy, landscaping of the terrain and clinical attention to the garden complement her delicate care of the plants.

Their services are not confined to just plant sales but also include plant rentals, and due to the ambience the gardens have become an ideal centre for wedding photography.

Advertising and marketing are an integral part of the operations as their collections can be accessed on Face book and business cards are always available.

This couple is undoubtedly the champion horticultural team in Tobago and in some respects in Trinidad & Tobago. They have participated in every horticultural show which has been organized in Tobago over the last 25 years and it is safe to say that they have advanced horticulture as a viable profession.

In their trophy cabinet is a host of trophies which they have won since the eighties. In 2008 Anthony achieved what he considers to be his most significant Award when he won he won the National Horticultural Championship (Entrepreneurial Ornamental) which was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture throughout Trinidad & Tobago; he successfully defended his title in 2009.

The Judging criteria included Landscaping, Presentation, Knowledge of Botanical Names of plants, Labeling, Record keeping, etc. Also in 2008 he received an Award from the Tobago House of Assembly for his contribution to Horticulture on the island. Last year a team from the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) came on a Field Trip to observe their operations as part of their research on the viability of horticultural projects.

Anthony reminisces: "You get hooked on this; I eat, sleep plants." If he follows his intuition he would find himself engrossed in work at 11.00 a.m. without having his breakfast so he said:" I eat first before I go there".

He spends hours each day manicuring the lawns and walkways, watering, mulching, transporting top soil, manure, rotted wood and checking for insects and parasites. When darkness sets in he turns on the lights and continues his work in the garage to set or transplant plants in bags or pots.

"I take a break when I am really, really tired," he says. The flowers are not the only attraction as the environment is a haven for birds, butterflies, iguanas and other creatures. Anthony has served as President of the Tobago Horticultural Society which has organised field trips to Trinidad and Horticultural Shows in previous years. They have always participated in World Food Day but horticulturists are invited primarily to enhance the environment. Their operations have been a source of inspiration to many persons who are now into horticulture in a serious way. He sums it up adequately by remarking:"This is an extension of my family; I enjoy it tremendously."

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