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Notes on the Geography of Ghana: Akuapem Hills

In 1875, nine years after establishing the Gold Coast colony, the British found it advisable to set up a sanatorium where officers could recuperate from attacks of malaria. They chose the Akuapem Hills, about 30 miles north of Accra and a blessed, if not quite adequate, 1,500 feet above sea level. In 1890, Governor Brandford-Griffith decided to establish a botanical garden on the sanatorium grounds. They were expanded and put under the direction of a student imported from Kew to be the first curator.

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Five years later, in 1895, an avenue of royal palms was planted. A photograph in The Gold Coast Handbook of 1928 shows the palms almost squat and perhaps half their height here.

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Buildings dot the grounds, including this one, perhaps the original sanatorium. It certainly sits on a prime hilltop location.

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The site had originally been forested. This tree survives as the monarch of the glen.

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A sign makes it official.

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Magnificent buttresses reminiscent of those on more famous, more grotesque display at Angkor.

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The business of the garden was primarily economic. Many plants were worked on, including rubber and, inadvisably, cotton. For that crop, a station was set up at a lower elevation near the Volta River. The tree in the center here is a kola.

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A nutmeg tree.

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The garden has an educational function, too.

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The most important crop introduced to the Gold Coast was imported not by the botanists but by a returning migrant, the locally famous Tettah Quarshie. The botanical garden later distributed cocoa seedlings and provided technical information to growers.

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Quarshie, who had learned of the cocoa tree while working as a carpenter on Fernando Po, brought it back with him in 1876 and planted it at Mampong, less than two miles north of the newly established sanatorium. Quarshie's farm, still privately owned though not by his descendants, is a kind of museum, welcoming visitors.

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On the site.

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The grove has perhaps 50 trees.

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A nearby house.

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Another, bigger but in poor shape.

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One of the several children of the deceased owner of the house; he explained that for lack of agreement about what to do with the property the children did nothing. A common story.

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