Monday, August 21, 2006

Creating My Own Little Gardening Community

A lovely red mango with a few blemishes
A few posts ago I was bemoaning my lack of gardening friends here in Chacala. But since then, things have started to change for me. Well, partly my attitude has changed, and partly I am starting to I have some gardening friends, albeit, on the Internet.

The attitude change is realizing how much I enjoy my relationships with some of the local gardening ladies. Esparanza, my landlady on the beach last winter, and her daughter-in-law Henia, are both plant addicts. And so are Isreal and Chata, and the Aurora (of Aurora and Benjamin), and Maria, and Guia. Aurora, Berta. And the Lupes.

Guia is another gardener here. I have been chatting with her a little as I walk by her house, across from Trini's for a long time now. But it wasn't until she started working as a cook at Chico's restaurant that I started really noticing her, and her little house garden. She has a nice cement flower planter in front of her little patio, and some plants on either side of the house. Yesterday we were visiting, and talking about her vincas (which grow wild here), and I noticed a lovely, deep red hibiscus plant on the empty lot next to her house. I asked Guia whose lot it was, and said I wanted to come get a cutting, if it was okay with the owner.

Guia hopped right up, and said "That's my plant" (in Spanish, of course). And I looked, and sure enough, the plant's roots where on her side of the property line. And the plant was almost all in the neighbor's yard. We laughed a lot, and we agreed I would come back for a cutting, since I was heading away from home, doing errands.

But I was very interested to see her strong reaction about whose plant that was. Everything looks kind of disorganized in Chacala, except for the houses with tall walls around them. Those fortresses belong to Guadalajara people who vacation here once or twice a year. It's hard for a newcomer like me to see the property lines around most of Chacala. And I don't know the history of the each lot. But it's very clear that people in Chacala know exactly where the lines are, and which plant or tree belongs to which family. Many of the trees here are useful: palm fronds, fruit, tea leaves, poultices, etc, twine, etc, and people know whose tree or shrub belongs to which family.

Another attitude change I am experiencing is to do with a longing for easier conversations about gardening. That translates to: wanting to talk in English about gardening sometimes. But I am getting some of that via emails, reading blogs, and researching on the internet, and my Spanish is slowly improving. Especially my gardening vocabulary.

And I have decided it's okay to make a bigger effort (and maybe to spend some cash) to get to interesting sounding gardening and writer events around this area. And out-of-the-way plant nurseries. I tend to think, "Oh, it'll cost to much to take the bus down and back to that event". Or, "I would have to come home in the dark", or ......... But I have decided to just go for it. I am cutting back on my pathetic magazine addiction anyway, so I have a little more cash for day trips.

And making some acquaintances on the internet has changed my feeling that I am all alone out here. Not knowing the names of plants, or how to grow them, or to even get the plants I crave. But now I know how to get good dirt and affordable pots. And I am feeling braver and more relaxed about searching out plant nurseries in unfamiliar areas. Anyway. Things are looking up in my little gardening world. It seems bigger now.


LostRoses said...

It's interesting that everyone there knows whose plant is whose and which tree belongs to which family. Mexico seems so laid back that I guess I didn't think of the residents being just as "territorial" as we are in the States! Not to mention that there is such an abundance of flora there to keep track of. When I think of the gorgeous blooming plants I've seen in Mexico on seemingly abandoned lots, I'm going to have to remember that "someone" owns them, and all the neighbors know who that is!

As for being braver and searching out more plant nurseries,I think you are very adventuresome just to be living there on your own! This is spoken like a true "turista" which I am.

I hope your cutting from the deep red hibiscus is successful, it sounds lovely. And how funny that only its roots are growing on Guia's side! I "borrow" my neighbor's trumpet vine because it mostly grows down my side of a wooden fence, so I get all the benefit and they have the roots. Good thing, as I haven't had much luck growing one of my own.

I used to have a gardening magazine addiction until I decided I was looking at the same pictures but in different locations over and over again. And it's a lot more fun to see "real" garden pictures on everyone's garden blogs. Happy plant hunting!

La Gringa said...

G in M: Your article today made me smile. You do have so many gardening friends, even if the communication is difficult. I'm glad you are feeling better about it and that you are going to have some more shopping excursions because I know we will all be interested to hear about them.

It sounds as if there is a big difference between Mexico and Honduras: In Honduras, EVERY property has a fence around it, even if there is nothing on it. I think I'll write an article on the "invasionistas" some day.

I'm looking forward to reading about what you find on your trips.

Christine said...

You're not alone~
We see you!

Deborah Midkiff said...

I am so happy that you have found so many wonderful friends. Reading the comments from "lostroses" was so nice, I had wished I said that myself! Never forget that you have a lot of friends. We may be physically far away, we are still close in spirit.