The Garden Museum is open! BOOK YOUR VISIT

Home » Sowing Roots: Caribbean Garden Heritage in South London » Sowing Roots: Dorrel Bennett Creary

Sowing Roots: Dorrel Bennett Creary

Dorrel came to the UK in 2002 as an adult and settled in London. She grew up in Jamaica where her mother had a small garden and grew flowers and her father farmed. He grew green banana, cocoa, yam, cabbage, pak choi, Scotch bonnet pepper, tomato, large tomato, sweet potato, peas (red peas and green gungo peas) and sorrel. In the past there was a system where neighbours used to help each other out, rotating to different farmers to help out on the land for a day, in return for a free lunch.

Dorrel doesn’t have her own garden but since 2016 she has been a volunteer gardener at Loughborough Farm. Gardening at Loughborough Farm brought back fond memories of Jamaica to Dorrel and of her father, who passed away in January 1994, as she could spot some of the same vegetables that he used to grow.

Gardening at Loughborough Farm also makes her feel calm – the greenery, flowers and vegetables – and helps her wellbeing. Dorrel says that she feels safe at Loughborough Farm. There are other people there who she knows. She can choose what gardening activity she wants to do, garden at her own pace and this makes her feel relaxed. Tea and delicious homemade cake (Loughborough café is across the road) also adds to her enjoyment! Cakes are made by the infamous Anthea.

The plants at Loughborough Farm that remind Dorrell of her Jamaican heritage the most are tomato, onions, spring onion, garlic and callaloo. Dorrel’s father’s greatest love was tomatoes.

She tries to have fresh flowers every week at home, bought from the market and has an Aloe Vera plant on her windowsill.

Dorrel has been a volunteer cook for quite a few different organisations from the Maudsley Hospital to Day Centres in south London. She is happy cooking Jamaican food and knows the recipes off by heart.

Jamaican Independence Day on 6th August is an important date for Dorrel. She celebrates it often by wearing traditional dress (which she did for her oral history interview at the Garden Museum). She also sang a traditional folk song in her interview, based on the poems of Louise Bennett also known as Miss Lou, who wrote and performed in patois (Jamaican dialect). For Dorrel’s photoshoot at Loughborough Farm, she dressed up in another Independence Day outfit based on the Jamaican flag and it’s colours of green, yellow and black. At a Heritage Day event at Loughborough Farm in September 2021, Dorrel sang along to the following traditional song and others present joined in. She also sang in her oral history interview held at the Garden Museum. Whilst visiting the gallery upstairs, she helped the Head of Learning to identify the plants in Rudi Patterson’s painting Arcadia.

Linstead Market
Mi carry mi ackee go a Linstead Market
Not a quattie worth sell
Mi carry me ackee go a Linstead Market
Not a quattie worth sell

Lawd what night, not a bite
What a Saturday night
Lawd what a night not a bite
What a Saturday night

Everybody come feel up, feel up
Not a quattie worth sell

Everybody come feel up, feel up
Not a quattie worth sell

Lawd what night, not a bite
What a Satiday night
Lawd what a night not a bite
What a Satiday night

Make me call [?] “Ackee, ackee!”
Red and pretty dam tan
Lady, come buy your Sunday morning breakfast
Rice and ackee nyam gran’

A traditional Jamaican mento folk song, “Linstead Market” tells of a mother who can’t sell her goods to feed her children. This version is Miss Lou’s, but the earliest printed version of this variant can be found in Walter Jekyll’s 1907 book, “Jamaican Song and Story.”