Friday, September 29, 2006

Bird of Paradise and Bamboo in San Miguel

I was up early this morning and took the bus downtown. It's a block and a half walk from "home" to the bus stop, and the buses seem to come pretty often. I wanted to be the El Jardin, the zocalo, in SMA about 9:30am, so I could go on a two-hour walking tour of the buildings in the downtown area.

I was early. So I looked for a bakery I had seen listed in the SMA tourist book my home owner left for me to use. The bakery had the best sort of apple turnover I have ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of turnovers in my day. I sat on a bench in the El Jardin ,and read the local weekly English newspaper and ate my goodies. And watched the crowd. Tonight is the start of the huge celebration of St. Miguel, including a special fireworks show that starts at 4 or 5am. I am NOT planning to attend. But I sure I will hear the sound effects.

About ten of us took the tour. I had misunderstand what the tour was about. I thought it was about the architecture of the buildings, the buildings themselves. But it turned out to be mostly about the tour leader's understanding of Mexican history. Part of the talk was offered inside the big church, La Parroquia, and delivered loud enough for all the persons praying in the sanctuary to hear every word. I was sitting near them, so I know.

So, I wandered off whenever I saw an interesting looking garden, and then caught up again, in case he said something interesting.

The Bird of Paradise plant at the top of this post was in a large interior patio, where there was also a giant Jasmine vine. It's "trunk" was made up of about 30 vines. It grew three stories up, from landing to landing, until it reached the roof, and then was spreading around the edge of the roof. Very beautiful with lots of blossoms, but the sun was coming up behind it and I couldn't get a good shot.

The Bird of Paradise was also a large plant. Maybe six feet across. I guess it was lots of different plants growing close together, rather than one plant. I think that's correct.

This bamboo plant appears to be clumper, not a spreader.
and was in the patio of the Belle Artes building.
Here is the bamboo from back across the courtyard of the Belle Arts building.
The plant had nice thick, yellowish "branches" (?). That couldn't be the right name for growing bamboo sticks. And here is of view from the inside of the arches you can see behind the bamboo. I love the rooftop gardens in San Miguel, and this one caught my eye because it seem so "architectural", sparse, different from the normal roof garden.

I am finally getting used to the mix of plants here. Many of the plants are at least annuals in Zone 5, and some are perennials there. And the tropicals are mixed right in. I have been to the Parque Juarez three times now, there is so much to see there. It's like wandering thru a wonderland. Not a lot of variety of plants, but lots of different fountains, and terraces, and steps, and a bridge, maybe more than one, over an arroyo. Even a colorful kid playground, and basketball courts. But mostly it's green and lovely. If you include the terraces going up to the art and music school I visited yesterday, it's about 3/4 of a mile of beautiful foliage. Most of the color is canna, which seems odd, but nice.

I love all the plants growing here: window boxes, roof gardens, regular gardens, garden shrines, interior patio gardens, little sidewalk gardens, pot gardens, hidden gardens inside the entries to homes. It's very beautiful and colorful. This is a wonderful climate here, at least in late September. No sweating dripping off me, and there's enough shade that I really use my umbrella. And it's only rained at night, a few times, so far.

I have been collecting cuttings from succulent plants I find growing "wild", in empty lots, in cracks in the sidewalk, etc. I have quite a few. I am hoping they will last until I can get them in the dirt back in Chacala. I have been living in Chacala for almost three years now, and every time go away to look at other towns, I can't wait to get home.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Part 3: Viveros in San Miguel de Allende

Today I went back to the first nursery I visited in SMA. It doesn't seem to have a name, but it's across the parking lot from Gigante. I went back because I had seen a succulent there I really wanted. But it cost more than I wanted to pay. 60 pesos. But, I haven't seen it at the others nurseries I checked out this week. So, I came back, and took some photos. And got that plant I liked.And another succulent. This plant has about 25 plants growing in the pots. I ended up paying 100 pesos for both plants. And the nursery guy reluctantly allowed me to photograph him. I think the look on his face is an expression of his annoyance at the price.I will add the names later, when I am near my books, unless someone wants to tell me what the names are.
This truck was being loaded by El Jefe's workers for a delivery somewhere.This nursery was much more temporary and informal looking that the second one I went to. It does have some shade shelters. The water is stored in a tinacho/tank set on a rickety-looking tower. Nice plants though, and alot of variety.

This nursery has a big supply of plain terra cotta pots. No decorated or painted ones. And I haven't noticed an plastic pots in San Miguel, but maybe they sell them somewhere else, or....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Walking in Parque Benito Juarez, in SMA

This afternoon I went for a long walk, and visited several Jardins and a church, and my new favorite pizza place, in "my" Colonia, San Antonio. The churchyard and the Parque Benito Juarez were the most interesting to me. The churchyard had a little special cross garden. That is, a cross was in the center. I think there were four heavily pruned Agave plants of some kind at each corner of the little garden. I liked it. There was something going on in the church and I didn't go in. Somehow I took the photo so that you can't see the Cross. A simple slip of my brain I guess.
I got totally lost and disoriented walking from San Antonio's Church to the Parque, and somehow missed one of the parks as I was looking for. I am still disoriented about directions here. The sun seemed to be going going in the east, so I KNOW I am still confused. Unless the world has changed more than I thought.

As I was studing my "world's worse map of SMA", leaning over a car hood, a woman called to me, asking if I knew where some street was. She was a Mexican tourist, and I showed her my map. After some intense map perusal, we walked off in different directions, thinking we knew where we were going. But I didn't know what I was until I finally ended up on a street I recognized. So it worked out, and I didn't really walk that far out of the way.

There is a long brick wall along one side of the street as you walk a couple blocks up a dead-end street (I think) to the entrance to the Parque.
There were very large, very old, plants along the street-side, with succulents mostly, in each planter.The entrance to the park looked promising, it seemed very large, with an uphill slope, and
lots of shade, plants, and trees.
The park at least three fountains maybe more. They all seemed to be romantic spots for couples, who seemed to be located one couple to a fountain. This was my favorite.
There were lots of plants, especially Cannas, interspursed among the trees. I didn't need my umbrella at all. This is another tender plant I used to grow as an annual in Zone 5, but I can't remember it's name. By a very strange coincidence, an email friend whom I have never met, Beverly, wrote me an email this afternoon, which I opened right before I left for my walk. She said to be sure to go to the Parque B. Juarez, and especially to find the clothes washing area. Of course, she couldn't have known that's where I was headed. The Parque, I mean. I had never read about the washing area, and I never would have found it if she hadn't of mentioned it. A very nice spot.I walked home, and of course, the pizza place, El Capricho Italiano, corner of 20 de Enero and Orizaba, in Colonia San Antonio, was right on the way. Thanks goodness. I was ready to eat.

Lazy Day in San Miguel

The mural at the Institute Allende, about six blocks away f from "home"
After five days of traveling to and touristing around San Miguel, I decided to take a break and hang around the house today, at least until later in the afternoon. The homeowner here is has a stack of current "New Yorker" magazines, and I am planning to lie around and read them this morning. I was deciding just where to lie around when I remembered this house has a roof patio. A big one. With a covered patio and a couch. And potted plants, and a view. So when up there with my faithful companion, the house dog, and we settled in up there.
There are a number of schoolmate in pots up on the roof, and several Bouganvilleas, and what I think is an Oleander with a white/yellow center blossom. But it might be something else. It's a very nice space, sunny, with shade for relaxing in.
And then I started noticing the view of San Miguel from the patio on the roof. It's a lovely town, and having a view of the Centro district, with the Cathredral and other churches standing tall, is really a gift. A number of roofs are connected in this neighborhood, and you can walk from roof to roof, which is what I did to take these photos.
La Parroquia, the parish church of San Miguel Arcangel, viewed from the roof patioLa Conception, maybe, and aka Las Monjas
The neighborhood, from the roof
I made a plan for the afternoon. I am walking over to the Parque Benito Juarez and then to Parque Guadiana, and then, maybe, stopping at the El Capricho Italiano Pizzeria, on the way home. That place has my favorite pizza in Mexico. Although my standards aren't very high. I haven't been very interested in pizza since I got food poisoned, and briefly hospitalized, from eating Pizza Hut pizza in Puerto Vallarta. But this pizza is excellent. I may have to chose between spending my pesos on plants or pizza. A tough, tough choice.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

News Alert #2: Book Club for Garden Bloggers

A garden blogger, May Dream Gardens, who posts on Garden Voices , has suggested a book club for garden bloggers. If you are interested, you can read her post and the comments at her blog. I think you don't actually have to have a garden blog, you can just comment on other people's blogs.

She though up the idea for garden bloggers in order to give them a topic to write about in their winter down-time. Of course, living in zone 11, I don't really have that problem of no outside garden to garden in for months at a time. But I really like the idea of a book club via the internet.
I miss having easy access to gardening books and magazines. And garden clubs too.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Part 2: Viveros in San Miguel de Allende

This morning I went roaming around looking for one particular vivero I had seen from the bus. I finally gave up on finding that one, and I started walking to the next one, which I thought was near the new, giant, Pollo Feliz restaurant. "Happy Chicken" restaurants are everywhere in Nayarit and Jalisco. Anyway, it was further than i thought, and when a taxi driver blinked his lights at me, which means "Do you want a taxi?", I nodded, and he came around and took me to the nursery. For what appears to be the standard 20 pesos. He was about my age, and had worked in Mexicali, driving semi's up into California, for about twenty years. No English, or else he was shy.
The nursery, called Magueye Vivero, could have been anywhere in the States. Very different from yesterday's vivero, which was a temporary place with a couple of plastic shelters on a dirt field. This was a very nice set-up with lots of plants, and pots, and shrubs and trees.
And great prices, even better than yesterday. I paid 54pesos (about $5US), for five suuculent plants, one of which had a bunch of babies. I can't remember to word for succulent babies. And two other plants that I haven't seen before in Mexico: an "ice" plant, and something else. Plus another pot full of babies. I was very happy, and the worker, Jorge, who helped me pick out my selection was very sweet.
I saw he was going thru the section for each different kind of plant, and picking out the nicest and largest for me. And of course, he seem to love the idea of being photographed. And this time I remembered to bring my giant plant plastic bag, bolsa, which saved me alot of hassleThis is definitely a plant nursery, not a "garden center". The only extra gardening-type merchandise I noticed was many, many stacks of colorful pots stored in a big, open shed. No potting soil or chemicals or tools or geegaws. But I noticed two more viveros on the way around town later on, and they looked a litte more like retail operations.
After paid and packed up, I walked across the highway, which was part of a huge, really huge traffic circle, where three main highways meet. Went to the new, giant, modern Polla Feliz restaurant. My mental budget for this trip calls for eating out three times. Two down, one to go. I think I will try El Grotto later in the week. All the reviews say their pizza is excellent. Of course, there may be a new pizza-phobic owner there by now.I walked back across the highway, taking a photo of the planting dividers, which are mini-gardens. Not every creative, but attractive, I thought. The waitress at Happy Chicken had given me a take-out bag since I hadn't finished my 1/2 chickenhen I got to the bus stop in front of the nursery, Jorge, the nursery guy came out, and carefully handed me a little packet. It was some succulent starts. Pretty nice of him. And I gave him my take-out bag of chicken. Pretty good trade, at least for me.

The same taxi driver who brought me to the vivero saw me from across the highway, and tooted at me. I was waiting for the bus, but was dreading walking the last, uphill, bit with my heavy plant bag. So I waved and got a $20peso ride home. It was worth it
Here are my new plants. When I was growing up in L.A. we called this one an ice plant, but I don't supposed that's the Latin name, or whatever.