Naturalistic and existential realms of place in Roseau, Dominica

by Niko Lipsanen (2001)


  1 Introduction


Chapters 2 to 6


  7 Position

  8 Structure

  9 Function

10 Texture


Chapters 11 to 13


Chapters 14 and 15

16 Discussion


    Appendixes : Places : Dominica : Realms of Roseau : Parks and gardens


10.2 Parks and gardens

Garden Polly Pattullo and Anne Jno Baptiste (1998: 7) say that gardens are an integral part of Dominican lifestyle. According to them, almost everybody is growing something somewhere. For a city-dweller garden can be some potted plants and ferns on the sidewalk in front of one's home (Fig. 30), or the garden may be located in the countryside, miles away. The gardens located outside the city are usually so-called kitchen gardens where some basic food crops are cultivated. It's not a Dominican phenomenon but a Caribbean one, kitchen gardens exist throughout the region (Brierley 1998: 125-126).

Due to the migration of people from the Inner City to the outer districts of the city the gardens have moved there, too. Many commercial buildings lie nowadays on a site which once used to be a garden. Formerly there were courtyard gardens behind the wealthy city homes but only few of them remain. Also the Public Library was originally surrounded by gardens, but only a lawn and few trees of those gardens still remain (Pattullo & Jno Baptiste 1998: 21-22).

Few courtyard gardens can still be found in the Inner City. Even fewer, however, are the gardens that face to the street--except for small sidewalk gardens. One of the most notable exception is the garden of Winston family on Great Marlborough Street. In other districts, however, the gardens still flourish. Many of the new suburban style houses have only a lawn in front of them, but some of them keep also gardens. Especially in the Upper Goodwill and St. Aromant where lots are more extensive than elsewhere in the city some well-kept gardens can be found (Fig. 31).

Most of the public parks and open spaces are found in the outskirts of the Inner City (Fig. 32). In the south there is the Newtown Savannah (see Fig. 59). In Minshall's town plan of 1768--at the time when the whole city was to be moved to Newtown--it was a site dedicated for the Anglican Church. Hence, a sizable wooden structure was built on the site. Dominica was then an English colony so there should be an English Church in the middle of the city. The capital was not moved to Newtown, however, and as the majority of inhabitants in Roseau were Catholics, only little attention was given to an Anglican church lying outside the city. In few decades it had fallen into ruin (Honychurch 1995: 179).

Nowadays the Savannah is an open green square used mainly for sports, especially football. Anglican graveyard, however, remains next to it. Just some 100 metres northwards is the Catholic cemetery, and opposite to it--on the side of the Botanical Gardens--is the Government cemetery. Catholic cemetery is situated on a land granted to the Church by King George III in 1766. According to Honychurch (1995: 176), it was a move that King made in order to recognise the importance of the French planters in his new colony. Ten acres (about four hectares) of land area on the hill between Central Roseau and Newtown was given away and except for a small portion that was donated to Methodist in 1865 when the original 99-year grant ended, it still remains in the possession of the Catholic Church. On the same hill is the the State House with an extensive and well-kept garden. The gate of it is, however, usually closed.

Parks Parks (map)
Fig 32. Parks and open spaces in Roseau.
[larger version]

Dominica Grammar School Most important public green space in Roseau are the Botanical Gardens. They were established in 1891 by officials of Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew. The aim was to introduce new plant species to Dominica and thus help the economical development. As the land area was far more extensive that was needed for those purposes, large sections of the gardens were devoted to ornamental trees and grass (Pattullo & Jno Baptiste 1998: 24-25).

The area of the Botanical Gardens covers almost one third of the Inner City (Fig. 34). Shillingford (1999) says that it 'dominates the capital city more than any other botanical gardens in the world'. However, as he continues, at its current state the gardens are more like an arboretum than a botanical garden. The park underwent serious destructions when Hurricane David hitted the city in 1979, and has not yet recovered from that. The Gardens suffer also from through traffic since the automobilists use it as a short-cut between Valley and Bath Roads.

Users of the Gardens are mostly school pupils who come there in their uniforms. As a matter of fact, many schools are located on the fringes of the Gardens. Gardens are used also for playing cricket; the Cricket Ground with a pavillion for spectators is located at the northern corner of the Gardens. Windsor Park on the other side of the Valley Road is mainly a sports facility. Adjoining to it is the 'Carnival City' area which is used as grounds for mass events.

Goodwill district is also quite well equiped with public open space. Lindo Park between lower and upper parts of the district offers an extensive open lawn which is often used for playing cricket (Fig. 33). The park is framed by a row of large trees in the shadow of which one can sit and watch the play. In Lower Goodwill, on the side of Charles Avenue, there is another open square. It is not as well kept as Lindo Park but anyway used by children to play cricket or football. Occasionally, some sheep are also kept at the square.

Between Goodwill Junior High School and the Caribbean Sea lies the Goodwill Savannah. The use and appearance of it are quite similar to the other Savannah in Newtown. According to Gairy Didier (1999), a Potter's Ville resident, it was earlier framed by trees like Lindo Park at present. Nowadays there exist just an open lawn.

Less than hundred metres to the SE from the Savannah there is a narrow stretch of green space on the both sides of a little ditch. The northern part of it grows trees and bushes while the southern part is open. It is not, however, widely used for recreational purposes but as a shortcut for pedestrians moving between Federation Drive to Winston Lane, and as a site where to leave useless junk material. Larger green space on the hillside between Lower Goodwill and the Roseau River is in similar use.

In Central Roseau there are only few small parks. On the other hand, extensive Botanical Gardens are in the vicinity. Peebles Park at the southern end of the Bay Front has few benches and some trees. There is a small lawn around the Anglican Church between Peebles Park and the State House Gardens. The Cathedral has a small open square at its front. It is not green, however, but offers a good view over the city. The Bishop's Garden next to the Catholic Social Centre is small but well-kept, and usually open for people to come. In Newtown, there is a churchyard with small lawn and some plants in front of the Fatima Church.

Althought Roseau is a coastal city, no park or garden has direct contact with the sea. Both Savannahs are separated from it by a heavily-used entrance road, and Newtown Savannah also by some buildings. Peebles Park and the small garden in front of the Public Library offer a view to the sea but are elevated from the sea level. People of Roseau, however, tend to move to the sealine for recreation, especially in the evenings. People come to sit to the Bay Front, or take walks near the Woodbridge Bay harbour area just north from Goodwill, as confirmed by Frank Vigo (1999), a Gutter Village resident.

There is no beach in Roseau, as there are not so many beaches in Dominica at all. Till the 1970s people from Roseau used to go on Sundays to the Rockaway Beach at Canefield. The beach was, however, swept out by the Hurricane David in 1979 (James 1996: 11). In Roseau, there exist a piece of sandy beach just next to Woodbridge Bay Harbour to the south. It is more like a small strech of sand, however, and not used for swimming or any other purposes.

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