Pretty in Pots

Deanna Look Loy in her garden

A Prospect garden is dotted with a collection of potted plants.

Deanna Look Loy considers herself a collector.

But not in the traditional sense.

“I am a plant collector, I suppose,” says the avid gardener and retired, long-time government employee. “I buy a lot of plants. I like to keep up with the new plants in the nursery; an expensive hobby.”

She’s also keen on taking cuttings and starting new plants in pots, many of which are given away as gifts.

Her expansive garden in Prospect is filled with hundreds of potted plants, highlighted by colourful varieties of desert rose and orchids. Towering ferns, bougainvillea and tropical trees and shrubs keep the area shady for most of the day.

Deanna spends a good part of her day in her garden, which is on a half-acre lot.

“Gardening is continuous,” she says. “It takes me three or four hours to clean the plants, take out the dead leaves and replenish the soil in the pots. I’m out here almost every day, for at least two hours and sometimes half a day.”

It takes around two hours to water her plants, which she does twice a week. While time consuming, for Deanna it’s a labour of love.

“It’s not onerous,” she says. “It’s very therapeutic, actually. You’re close to nature, and it’s nice to see things growing.”

Floral arrangements

Deanna also has a passion for flower arranging, completing a course when she spent a stint in Trinidad as a Spanish teacher.

A member of the Garden Club of Grand Cayman, she enters her creations in its various shows and competitions.

Her designs are in demand in the community as well.

“People call me all the time to do displays,” she says.

That includes churches and various government departments, where she is well-known to many.

She lends her potted plants for events and special occasions. At Easter, she has loaned plants for Palm Sunday at her church, St. Ignatious, painting the pots as well.

Deanna is a fan of gardening in pots, as she finds soil in Cayman unsuitable for some plants.

“It’s easier to take care of them, re-pot them and give them away,” she says.

Deanna, retired from the civil service around seven years ago. She spent more than 30 years with Cayman Islands Government, in education, health and social services. She started her career teaching Spanish in the public high schools.

In 2005, she was awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour for her work in the community and civil service.

She has three daughters and helps care for her two grandchildren.

East End farm

Deanna has a small two-acre farm in East End where she grows fruits and vegetables, employing a full-time farmer to oversee it.

Called Deanna’s Farm, she takes school groups from her church on tours of the property.
She sells the produce to local supermarkets.

It hails back to earlier days, when Deanna recalls she and her siblings helped her mother grow tomatoes in the garden.

“The managers from the hotels would come for the tomatoes,” she says. “We weren’t importing much back then.”

Deanna says she inherited a passion for plants and gardening from her mother.

“I grew up with it,” she says. “My mother always had a nice garden, so it came naturally.”

While Deanna has a busy schedule – tending to her garden and farm along with family and community commitments – she does manage to enjoy some downtime in her garden relaxing on her wooden swing.

“I come out here sometimes and read, or just to sit,” she says. “I’m a yard person.”