Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bouganvilleas in Chacala

Bouganvillea with automatic nitrogen units

Bouganvilleas seem to grow wild in Chacala. Well, almost wild. I have had some very nice experiences with Bouganvilleas here. Much different in the Zone 5 world, where they cost $30 dollars and last for three or four months. Here they are about $2 or $2.50 USD and last forever and grow like crazy.

This summer is my third summer housesitting in the same Chacala house, and I feel very attached to some of the plants here. Mostly because I selected, planted, and continue to care for many of them.

The Spring before last I went to the La Penita plant nurseries with my summer landlord and landlady to pick out plants for around the outside of the house. Among other plants, we got four pots, one foot tall each, of bright purple bouganvilleas for the south side of the house, which is two stories high on that side.

After we picked out the locations, one of the local guys dug holes in the ground with a pickaxe. It took about an hour a hole. We put dirt from the nursery in the holes and watered the holes for a couple of days. It was at least three months til the rainy season, and we were worried about the watering situation.

Anyway, we planted them and watered almost daily for a month or so, and they took off. 12 to 15 feet tall that summer, more in the winter. They have no been living here about 15 months, and they are growing like crazy. Stems are 1 1/2 thick or more, crawling up the house unto the roof. I have been cautiously pruning them back, even though my garden advisor, Berta, who gardens next door, said I should whack them way back.

There have been a few set-backs. One bright morning the owner of the empty lot next door brought some spray guys in to spray his lot with some horrible herbicide. I heard them outside in the jungle and called to them, hysterically, and got them to stop while I begged the owner to keep the spray away from the house.

Unfortunately this house is built right to the lot line, so he wasn't very cooperative at first. But he finally agree not to spray within about fifteen feet of the house. Saving a bunch of palms and shrubs and fruit trees and all the bouganvilleas. Except for the one that got a "healthy"dose of the spray before I stopped the spray-guy. It still took the poor baby about six months to die.

And now, I fear, tragedy may strike again. Last night there was a nice big wind, thunder, and lightning storm with about 10 seconds of rain. When I went downstairs this morning to check the water supply I found that one of the bouganvilleas had been torn lose from the pillar it has been climbing up, and was lying on the ground. Or most of the branches/vines were on the ground. Still attached, and not broken, but no longer growing up the side of the house.
So, for the moment 20 feet of bouganvillea are lying across a bunch of baby palms and miscellaneous other plants I don't know the name.

Anyway, I got out my trusty Corona pruners (26 years old) out, and found the branches were too thick and sturdy to cut through. I am afraid the thick branches are going to starting breaking and cracking before I can get some stronger clippers. Or maybe a pruning saw.

So I am off to borrow or buy some big clippers. I don't think they sell them in Chacala or Las Varas, but someone might have some around town. I have to look up the name and then draw a picture of what I am looking for. My dictionary doesn't seem to have the correct names for tools, which can lead to some awkward moments, but that's another story.

On a more cheerful note, this past winter my landlady/landlord bought some more bouganvilleas with really beautiful colors, which are now planted in with the purple ones. It's going to look so beautiful. They are only about two feet tall right now, but they are starting to take off. I can't wait.

Overview shot (pelican view) of Chacala

No comments: