Of all the trees in my garden my very favourite is my coconut tree. There are many different varieties of coconut trees but I have two types. One yields large green coconuts that give us coconut water and the sweet coconut jelly inside. These are very tall, much taller than the house and seem to still be growing. When they are harvested I am clutching my pearls with horror at the men who effortlessly climb up the trees with minimal safety gear to cut down the coconuts. Not a job for those who do not like heights.
These tall coconut trees are very tough against strong winds too. Thankfully I have not experienced a full blown hurricane but our first winter here did involve some extraordinarily strong winds which made me a bit nervous. The trees bent over a bit during these harsh winds but to my surprise in the morning all of the coconuts were intact!
The other coconut tree is not quite as tall but has coconut tree berries which turn a bright red when ripe. Although we have never tried them, they are enjoyed by the birds and the dogs. The dogs munch on the flesh of the berries and thankfully spit out the stones, like a grandmother enjoying a prune. I used to do the same with the dates from our coconut tree we had in Dubai.
Not only do the large coconut trees give me a mixer of coconut water for my rum they are a constant source of dog toy chews. As with everything on the island, dog toys are expensive and don’t last 24 hours. However, the coconuts that fall from the tree are great dog chews. They are natural and the strands also help their gums. Although the coconut shells are green, once these are removed they reveal the brown husk that the dogs love to rip apart. I keep an eye on them whilst they are chewing through the husks to make sure that they do not swallow any of the strands.
The coconut fronds (leaves) are a great tug and chew toy too. The almighty crash they make when the fall to the ground signals play time! As I drag the fronds across the garden to a spot where they can later be cleared by the gardener, the dogs delight in jumping up and trying to hang onto the fronds. There is something quite delightful in seeing two dogs dangling off a large coconut frond. They are almost as tough as the coconuts so are another great dog chew. We have a good tug of war, then a serious chewing session begins and I get a good 10 minutes of peace enjoying my coconut water.
Coconut trees are just great. They just keep giving!