‘My hand is good with catching flowers’ - Self-taught amputee finds joy in gardening
Fifty-eight-year-old Donald ‘Oney’ Taylor has spent almost four decades beautifying gardens in communities across St Catherine.
The resident of Independence City in Portmore made a switch from working as a jeweller and loader man after an accident in 1981 resulted in the amputation of his right leg.
Determined to rebound, Taylor ventured into gardening after his recovery, perfecting his craft through trial and error.
The self-taught man has watched with pride over the years as many of his projects flourished.
“I know I’ll be all right in the gardening because I work everywhere in Portmore and Old Harbour. I have whole heap a customers. Yuh haffi seh a me a do the city now,” he boasted.
Armed with his garden scissors, machete, fertiliser, and pesticide, he frequently makes his way to various homes, riding a bicycle, which he does not pedal but extends his right leg to the ground to propel it forward.
At times, some customers pick him up and transport him to their homes.
The garden is his domain, and Taylor effortlessly manoeuvres it on his knees, using a crutch only when necessary.
He revealed that he manages all properties on his own and has never hired an assistant.
“People see me working on gardens and take my number, and from I come do it one time, they don’t leave me out because they say I do the gardening good,” he explained, adding that it is his primary source of income.
Taylor’s greatest joy is seeing the gardens he works on thrive, and as he toils, the blazing sun is the least of his problems.
“I get so used to it. Nuff people give me hat, but when I work with the hat, I work slow,” he said.
When a new client requests his services, Taylor sources the grass and flowers from other flourishing gardens on which he previously worked.
“My hand is good with catching flowers. I just cut them, plant them, put on manure and leave it. If I plant it Monday, I come check it back the next Monday,” he said of the process.
When The Gleaner caught up with him yesterday, he was tending to Tashana Richards’ garden in Westchester, Portmore.
She learnt of Taylor through her hairdresser, and he has been her gardener for almost two years.
“His work is very remarkable. He doesn’t allow the fact that he doesn’t have both legs to bother him. I think he has good green hands,” she said, adding that he has transformed her garden.
“He planted everything, and he maintains it. He comes every Wednesday or every other Wednesday,” said Richards.
Another client, Marcia Dennis, added that Taylor never misses a Monday to maintain her garden.
“He’s been working with me since May 2019, and I can recommend him to anybody. First he came and viewed the place, then he came back on a rainy Monday at 5 o’ clock in the morning. He’s the best gardener in Portmore, and he does a great job,” she said with a smile.