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Ruby Rolle surveys the Phillip John Strachan Memorial Garden she named for her deceased brother - an avid farmer. An area she hopes the public will use to reflect and enjoy has become the target of consistent vandalism and littering. Someone has come to the garden on several occasions to cut off the tops of trees (including two $4,000 royal palms), steal plants and there is evidence of poisoning at the roots of some trees.

Local Woman Laments Vandalism of Memorial Garden

A memorial garden is in the making adjacent to the Abaco Community Health Facility also known as the mini hospital on the S.C. Bootle Highway.

The memorial garden will be named the Phillip John Strachan Memorial Garden.

According to Ruby Rolle, the garden is in memory of her deceased brother Phillip Strachan, who was an avid farmer. She said that what Phillip didn’t plant, he gave to others who had an interest in farming.

To her dismay, however, someone has been visiting the garden and is up to no good. Rolle has discovered on numerous occasions that the heads of trees have been completely chopped off, or something has been placed at the roots of the trees to kill them.

Many times, motorists or passerby throw their trash comprised mostly of beer bottles, cans and other discarded food products directly into the garden.

To date, the greatest loss has been two of the royal palms – valued at approximately $4,000 a piece – that were erected at the main entrance to the memorial garden. Fortunately, Rolle was able to save one of the royal palm trees on the two-acre property.

She planted coconut trees as well as a rose tree and a peas tree that bring back distinct memories of her mother, Lilla Strachan, who is also deceased. Unfortunately, the Christmas palm trees she planted were also destroyed, and some of the plants have gone missing altogether.

Despite the challenges she’s faced, Rolle holds fast to her vision and the memory she holds dear in her heart for her brother.

“People think I’m crazy for what I’m doing because it’s a lot of hard work,” she expressed.  “But farming and growing things have always been a passion of mine, so I will finish this memorial garden.

“My brother would have been proud if he was alive to see this. Money isn’t everything, and this costs a lot of money to do. If I focused on the amount of money it costs to do this, I would never do it.”

To minimize further loss to the property, Rolle said they will find a way to enclose the memorial garden because of the destruction that has already taken place.

“The plants are not doing anything to them, so what are they killing them for?” she questioned.

“All of the plants I grew in here from seeds,” she said pointing out various ones by name. “My son and I just started planting the bromeliads last week to line the entrance walkway.”

She also had a wheelbarrow to transport the dirt to build up the walkway, but the wheelbarrow was stolen. It has been discouraging to see the damage to the garden that Rolle with the help of her sister Courtney Chandler and her son, Jamari, put a lot of time and effort into creating.

Rolle has also observed illegal farming on the property, and is asking those who are responsible to please remove the banana and sugar cane trees they planted there.

“This memorial garden is supposed to be a place for people try to spend some quiet time or to reflect, to drop their children off to play, or they could walk across from the hospital to clear their heads after receiving bad news.

“A lot of people have offered to buy this property because it’s on prime land, but I will not sell it.”

Work on the garden began in August 2016, and they expected to complete the garden by April of this year. Rolle said that she plans to plant more trees, and she hopes that the grass she planted will continue to grow and spread on the property to control the weeds.

As the memorial garden nears completion, they will place benches for people to sit down, and there will also be a pond for them to visit. A parking area will also be designed, and will be separated from the garden by a procession of bridal bouquet trees that borders the property.

About Canishka Alexander

Canishka Alexander was born in New Providence, but spent most of her childhood years on Abaco. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Abilene Christian University.

Although she has accomplished many things in life, her greatest accomplishment is being a mother to her four children. She loves God, her country and people of all cultures.

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