Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gardening Today in Chacala

I think I have posted this photo before, but I like it anyway.
It's the view from one of the room patios at Casa Chacala.

I have learned so much here about the plants here in Chacala just by sitting here and looking around. I sit at my computer right in front of a big window that faces south. It is just a screened window, no glass, so I can catch the breeze, and watch the plants growing in front of my eyes.

The palms are so fascinating. I am eye-level with one plant that's about fifteen feet tall. When I first moved back into this house in early May I noticed that a giant thick stalk was growing up out of the middle of the palm fronds. Maybe six or eight inches in diameter and taller than any of the fronds. Then gradually I noticed that the top of the stalk was opening up, and the long skinny palm frond leaves were opening up from the top down. Now, after about four weeks, the top three feet of the stalk are completely open and you can see the leaves opening up further down.

Once I had noticed the stalk on this tree, I started seeing other palms with stalks. Yesterday, while I was lying in the hammock on the west facing terrace, I saw that a much bigger palm tree on that side of the house has six giant stalks coming out of the middle. It's so amazing, and so dumb, that I never noticed the stalks before. I guess it's partly because now I am eye-level with the one outside this window.

I think this is the third day I haven't gone anywhere, except to get some buckets of dirt and talk to my neighbor about the water truck. Just puttering around the house and yard and trying to figure out how to use IPhoto on this little Mac.

Yesterday I did the dumbest thing. I was watering the plants on the front patio and the garbage truck guy came up, and I got distracted and forgot to turn the water off. FOR TWO HOURS!!!! Almost a whole tankful of water: 2500 liters, which costs 250 pesos or about $23 dollars. Usually, if it rains, I can make it a month on a tankful, but not this month. I watered the driveway instead. I can't believe I did that. What a waste. Now I have to wait a day or two or three or more, for the water guy to find someone to share a truckload of water with me. Everyone else has big underground water storage tanks and they can take a whole truckload.

Someone who reads this blog asked me via email why I didn't get plant cuttings from my neighbors here. I guess he was suggesting I would save money or something. I do get cuttings from the women around here. We share plants and give each other plants all the time. It's the gift that keeps on giving. But almost all my neighbors here have all the same old boring (and beautiful) plants: bouganvillea, hibiscus, jasmine, some really nice vines, etc. We share cuttings all the time, but usually it's people wanting cuttings from my plants, because I get stuff at the nurseries that nobody has around town has.

My neighbors have taught me how to do cutting for all their plants, and I have learned alot about how they use their plants. But there are a million plants that can grow around here and I want them all. I only know of one local woman I who has ever even been to a plant nursery. The closest ones are in La Penita. She's Berta, the housekeeper for my closest neighbor. Berta is the most amazing gardener. All her plants look wonderful and I learn alot from here. She has only been in her new house for about a year and a half, and it's surrounded by beautiful plants.

I also learn alot from another woman in Chalaca, who is kind of a klepto-plant-maniac. But I give her plants before she can take them, so that works out okay. And she shows me where to cut cuttings and what's a weed, and so on. It's a trade. My plants, her knowledge.

When I move, every six months or so, I leave almost all my plants or give them to whoever I like the best that day, or whoever has expressed appreciate for a certain plant. Then I start over again. Aurora has gotten 50% of my plants because I love to see them growing at her place. Aurora's looks so different now that when I first came. They have done so much work there. She has Aurora's Techo de Mexico Rentals, and really has a nice setup. She is a gardener, but it really looks nice. And I generally recognize each plant I gave her or planted there, and that make me feel good.

When I left the beach last month, I left all the plants and pots and dirt with Esparanza and her daughter-in-law, except for some succulents that I had been babying from cuttings. But I go visit the plants every week or so. Every couple weeks Maria comes up looking for cuttings. She always seems to know when I have been to the nursery and comes up the next day looking for starts. I love seeing "my" plants around town.

No rain yet. High nineties and not really humid, but humid enough. Breezy all the time at this house, and I stay in the house or outside in the shade during the day.

This is a photo of Beatriz's upstairs Techo de Mexico rental unit. Go to Chacala Budget Rentals to see more Chacala rental info. The website is a no-charge/volunteer effort for find rentors for Chacala landladies without websites to advertise their rentals.

No comments: