Yellow Cedar, Ginger Thomas, Tecoma Stans

Flourishing Flora

The excitement of purchasing a home comes with many decisions. Location, school district, square footage, and the list goes on. However, when it comes to aesthetics, often flooring type and wall colors might take precedence. The kind of foliage homeowners want dotting their properties probably isn’t the first thought. Still, it is one of the most beautiful and elegant touches you can add to such a significant investment. The US Virgin Islands boasts a diverse array of native trees and plants where anyone is sure to find the perfect addition to their dwelling. The iconic palm tree is what people envision when they think of the Caribbean, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to island greenery. Whether you seek a property with a developed green space that is just waiting for you to throw up your hammock and enjoy the shade, or you want a clean slate where you can build your own tropical backyard, the possibilities are endless.

Flamboyant Tree
Flamboyant Tree

Virgin Islands’ green space includes both native and migrant trees and plants that add to the essence of a tropical livelihood. Many homebuyers are lucky to find properties that come with a mature green space. Popular trees found dancing in backyards include the flamboyant tree that provides owners with a gorgeous crown that spreads wide with blood-orange or yellow flowers. Lignum vitae are slow-growing evergreens with a sturdy bark; the perfect provider of shade for a backyard picnic. Property owners who are fortunate enough to have kapok trees enjoy a beautiful deciduous tree that can grow to a massive height of 80 feet. Known as the silk cotton tree, the fibers of the kapok tree have many practical uses, including the padding of pillows and mattresses. The majestic mahogany, tibet, and saman trees are decadent additions to mature backyards and courtyards alike. Who can forget the tyre palm, the only remaining native palm, as a mainstay in a well-rounded Caribbean yard. One can also find edible fruit-bearing trees like mango, tamarind, sugar apple, genip, noni, papaya, coconut, and many others filling out yard space all across the Virgin Islands.

You can’t forget curb appeal. You definitely want to wow with the backyard aesthetics, but the initial draw is in the plants that adorn the front of your homes. For condo and apartment dwellers, plants can brighten up any porch or balcony. The official flower of the Virgin Islands, the yellow cedar, is a lovely welcoming piece into your island home. The bright yellow trumpet-shaped flower can be spotted across the Virgin Islands. Other natural ornamental plants to consider are the hibiscus, frangipani, century plant, liana fragante, hand leaf plant, locust berry, dog caper, and wattapama. For homebuyers that find themselves falling in love with properties in arid locations, the night-blooming cereus cactus, prickly pear cactus, woolly nipple cactus, and Turk’s cap are all fabulous choices to decorate your property with.

The choices are endless when it comes to choosing the best trees and plants to accent your property. Whether you have a sprawling piece of land or share walls with your neighbors, there is a piece of nature that is perfect for your home. Trees and plants are held in high esteem in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. They provide their communities with multiple uses to include medicines, food, materials to make tools and crafts, and beautification. Every tree and plant has a unique quality it possesses. Do a little research and pick the best ones to express who you are on your little piece of paradise.

USVI Madras

The Cloth That Binds

When we think of the United States Virgin Islands, images of crystal clear beaches, rolling hills, and friendly faces all come to mind. The U.S. Virgin Islands is quite the cultural smorgasbord. One can walk the streets of the various towns and stumble upon architecture from Danish occupation as well as various other building styles. As you weave your way in and out of the different walkways your nose is greeted with the smells of the different foods that keep us all delightfully satiated. You can turn any corner and hear various languages or dialects, which proves that we are a wonderful mix of the inhabitants of the global world. Until recently, one aspect of our culture was not as clear-cut as it is today. From the shores of India, into the villages of Africa, right to the waters of the Caribbean, madras has clothed many bodies for centuries.

Quadrille Dancers St. CroixThe madras cloth is a lightweight cotton fabric that is traditionally hand-woven into plaid, stripes, or checkered patterns. Woven with semi-permanent dyes, the bleeding of the dyes is what gives this cultural icon its soft, muted colors. Throughout the history of the Virgin Islands, madras has always played a key role in cultural expression and decoration. One can find madras among the sea of dancers dancing the quadrille to infectious Quelbe music, both of which are honored as the official dance and music of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Madras can be seen adorning the costumes of our spiritual stilt-walking guardians, the Mocko Jumbie. During the annual Agricultural Fair held in February on the big island of St. Croix, residents and visitors alike can be seen in droves in culturally fashion-forward garb. Different colors and patterns of madras hug the bodies of fair-goers creating a quilt of colorful beauty for what seems like miles. It is quite impossible to spend a day on one of the Virgin Islands without seeing madras at least once or twice. If you catch a view of the Virgin Islands from atop, there are several communities whose paint colors create a huge madras blanket from the sky.

Signed into law as Act 8424 on January 21, 2021, the U.S. Virgin Islands designated a beautiful pattern, designed by local artist Debbie Sun, to be the official madras of the territory. The official madras revealed on June 5, 2021, is a rich pattern whose hues embody the spirit, love, and strength of the Virgin Islands people. official madras colorsEach color was mindfully picked to represent the territory in a gorgeous cohesion of colors. Turquoise pays homage to the waters that so gently encircles the land while the royal blue represents the mysteries of the deep sea harbors. The pink honors the conch shell which is our own sweet battle cry; freedom forever! The white represents flour stacks and the yellow gives reverence to the Ginger Thomas, the official flower of the territory. To round out the colors there is green to show respect to our rich natural resources and red that expresses the love and strength of Virgin Islanders. The official madras is a lovely complement to the flag of the Virgin Islands for which we wave with pride. We encourage you to go and get a piece of history and embrace it in your own creative way!