Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Learning About a New Gardening World

Someone emaied me last week. The email seemed to be focused on the writer's concerns about gardening at her new place in San Miguel Allende. San Miguel is in the higher plains between Guadalajara and Mexico City, and has a much more varied, and much colder climate than Chacala.

I have only visited SMA, in late September, and don't know much about growing things there. I did look at many of the nurseries then, and the local public gardens, and parks, and some private gardens in homes and at restuarants and historical buildings. I was really impressed with the gardens and the variety of plant I saw there.
The photos here were taken in San Miguel de Allenda last September. There are other photos of the gardens there from posts in late September and early October 2006.

This is part of what I wrote to the woman who wrote the email. She was concerned about finding familiar plants, like dahlia's in SMA. And was concered about what she saw as a lack of variety in the plants she saw there."My suggestion is that you kind of start fresh when you get to San Miguel. Lots of plants that grow in Marin will grow in SMA, and many other more tropical and Mediterrean plants will grow there too. I have seen Dahlias for sale around PV, and SMA has lots more nurseries, so you may have been there at the wrong time of year.

My own experience of moving to Mexico, after gardening in zone 5 for 40 years, was to spend a year observing and visiting other peoples gardens, and looking at nurseries and reading gardening books and the web about plants that grow in this climate. As experimenting. There are so many plants here. Most people get starts from their friends, rather than nurseries. Nurseries are mostly for landscapers, not home gardeners.

"I think you will be amazed at what's available in SMA. I love succulents and that's where I went to find them. They were everywhere. And there are lots of gardens in SMA, and all the nearby towns, and botanical gardens too. There is so much to learn about growing plants in a new climate. It's very fun and an adventure. You will never run out of plants and gardens to discover. "It's just different here, in Mexico. Not better, not worse. Well, maybe better, because you can grown things year round. And many of the favorite plants in the San Francisco, CA, area came from Mexico, that is, they originated here.

My advice to you would be to let go of thinking in terms of how and what you used to do as a gardener, and explore all the new possiblities here in Mexico.

I would add the following comments to that writer:

And, FYI, my experience so far in Mexico is that most of my best plants have come from sharing with my neighbors and friends here. The plant nurseries are generally focused on providing plants for landscapers. Although if you look carefully, they have many many plants. And the plants they offer change with the season.

And there are lots of great books in English and in Spanish about growing plants in Mexico and warmer climates. It's really fun to learn about new plants in a new clima.

Regarding your comment about smuggling plants into Mexico. First of all, there is a reason for the care that is taken to only allow certified and inspected plants either way across the border. Those laws are important and necessary, for all our sake's. I hope you don't do that.Also, there are many many bamboo varieties available in Mexico, and it's not a good idea to break the law of any country. And it's disrepectful of the country you are entering. Dahlia's grow in Mexico. In fact, I think they originated here or in Central America. I am sure you can find some in season.
It worries me when I think people are bringing an attitude of superiority into Mexico. Like the only good stuff comes from the U.S. or Canada. There are gardens here in Mexico that were established hundreds of years ago and are still flourishing. Us Californians can learn alot down here. If we look around and study up, and make gardening friends in Mexico.

No comments: