Fruits of nature

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Henrik’s fruit trees 

The private gardens of Henrik Lindhardt are filled with fruit trees that have branches bowing with bounty.

Well known to many gardeners in Cayman as the busy owner of Power Flower nursery, Henrik seeks solace in his 1.5-acre sanctuary where the trees yield crops all year round.

The ornamental orchard is on the same premises as the nursery, located just off busy Crewe Road in George Town, where Henrik and his partner Kate Dunne also live on the property.

However, the pervading sense of peace is palpable amongst the many fragrant, flowering plants and fruit trees.

“We are located so close to town, yet tucked away – it’s like having a best-kept secret,” says Henrik.

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When he purchased the property in 1997, many of the mature trees that are there today were already established, as the previous owner – Kay Slack – also had a passion for gardening.
However, after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, approximately 40 percent of the total number of trees was lost and since then the orchard has been a work constantly in progress.

Now, the garden is groaning with fruit, including everything from bananas and mangoes to papaya, passion fruit and plums.

And the fruits are all from the tropics, filling the garden with edible treats throughout the seasons.

“Limes, bananas and papaya bear year-round, but we are very lucky that several of our fruit trees bear multiple crops, which helps to extend the season,” says Henrik.

“Last year our Kent mango tree produced fruit from June through November – that’s a lot of mangoes.”

With so much fruit, Henrik and Kate eat, bake, give it away to friends and sell some of it, too, with a constantly changing array of juicy varieties to choose from.

“The concept of eating-for-the-season makes it difficult to have favorites,” says Henrik.

“I feel that I am lucky to be able to go out and pick something daily from the yard that is nutritious and delicious.”

Even when not bearing crops, the trees are beautiful to look at, especially when flowering, and Henrik particularly enjoys following the different stages of the mangoes.

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“I love watching for the first blooms and seeing how, over the weeks, they change until they are ready to be eaten,” he says.  

Henrik’s head for horticulture stems from his parents enthusiasm for gardening back in their native Denmark. After finishing high school in that country, he went on to study at Beder Horticultural College in the Danish peninsula of Jutland.

“I did a three-year apprenticeship in Denmark,” says Henrik. “The first two years were at a 60-acre production nursery called Kortegaard where the focus was on fruit, large trees and ornamental shrubs. The last year I spent time working in a retail nursery in Jutland near the college.”

Henrik arrived in the Cayman Islands in 1984, starting Power Flower to cater to the high demand for garden maintenance and landscaping services.
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The tropical growing conditions were, of course, much different from those of northern Europe, but Henrik soon adapted his skills.

“The technical part of growing is similar,” he explains.

“However, learning the tropical flora came with reading, speaking with other landscapers here in Cayman, and some trial and error.”

Henrik grows his plants, shrubs and trees on-island both for Power Flower and his own, private garden.

“We have a propagation house where the cuttings and seedlings start out,” explains Henrik.

“We also have an area where we host our ‘mother’ plants that we work from to produce what we sell. The entire nursery takes up about three acres, not including our pot display area or parking.”

Kate also has a little yoga studio in their private grounds, where she holds classes in a Zen-like building amidst the calm of the garden.

“To walk past the aromatic ylang ylang tree (extracts of the flower are used in the perfume Chanel N° 5), past the pool and then to the studio, gives a wonderful feeling of a garden oasis and tranquility which the students bring into class with them,” says Henrik. “We are two people living on a beautiful property and it makes me feel good that I am able to share the orchard.”
 

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So what inspires Henrik to garden? 

“The feeling of being amidst nature, growing the food we fuel our bodies with, and to take time and shut off the computer,” he says.

“There’s nothing like walking barefoot in the grass and getting my hands dirty; that feeling is indescribable.”  

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Henrik Lindhardt against jackfruit tree