Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oaxaca Ethno Botanical Garden, Part 2

The front garden of the San Domingo church.
I think I have finished with showing Oaxaca photos.

Here are the last three, maybe. If you want to look at other photos of Oaxaca go to
The entrance gate to the Oaxaca Ethno-botanical GardenThe library window at the Garden, from the outside.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gardener in Chacala Goes to Oaxaca

I got back to Chacala yesterday, after my eight night trip to Oaxaca. I had a hard time figuring out how to download the 500 photos in my camera unto my computer. But
I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and knew the problem was too many photo in the camera. So I edited out about 100 photos (doubles, blurry ones, etc), and everything worked fine. I was really anxious about it. But it worked out fine.

Oaxaca is a 24 hour bus ride from Chacala (east and south), and about 8 hours southeast of Mexico City. That's a very long bus ride. It cost about $80US each way. Oaxaca is a state and a city, and it a very different climate than Chacala, although it does have the same rainy season in summer/dry season in winter as in Chacala.It poured a heavy, drenching rain every afternoon, starting about 4pm, and lasting for two or three hours. It's warm though, and I only used an umbrella, no jacket or rainjacket.Oaxaca is at about 5,000 feet, I think, and is surrounded by three Valles, and then heavily forested mountains behind the Valles. It's very beautiful, the setting and the people too. There are many different Indio groups in the stae fo Oaxaca (including the City of Oaxaca, where I was monstly). Many people speak only their Indio language, with no Spanish. They are very beautiful people, and many of the women and girls wear their traditional clothings. If you would like to see other photos of Oaxaca, go to My Life in Chacala at these photos are of various private gardens in the Oaxaca area. Some are at museums, at hotels, at homes, office buildings, and parks. This is the entrance to a small, bohemian cafe, gallery, and 8 unit hotel. It consisted of a series of connected rooms, anll with gardens and plants in pots. I think this is the Rufino Tamayo Museum courtyard, with a roof garden. The Musuem is filled with wonderful exsamaples of every old art objects, some from the years 500BC. Incredibly delicate and beautiful. There are gardens tucked in everywhere in Oaxaca, even on roofs and walls. I would have seen more roof gardens, but I was usually to busy looking and the buildings and the people and the traffic.

Tour of the Oaxaca Ethno-Botanical Garden

I am going to post photos in as soon as I can figure how to do it.

Yesterday I went on a tour of the Oaxaca Ethno-Botanical Garden. Twice a week the Garden offers a two hour tour in English. The guide was an American woman named Carol Turkenik. She seemed to be very knowledgeable about the "ethno" aspects of the Garden. Uses of plants and the place of the various plants in the culture, history, and religious life of the area. I really enjoyed the tour.

The garden itself is very beautiful. It´s set in what was originally a work area behind a cathedral and monastery in Oaxaca, that was built in the late 1500´s. On two sides it´s surrounded by the lovely old buildings, with a nicer building (1800´s maybe) on another side and a tall stone wall on the fourth sides. It´s really a spectacular setting for a garden. It´s right on the north edge of the centro area of Oaxaca.

We were mostly in the areas of the garden where there are succulent plants, mostly cacti.

I loved hearing about all the ways people from the pre-Hispanic era up until today use the plants and trees in there lives. I live the idea that ordinary, but very knowledgeable people know how to use the plants area them for food, medicine, clothing, shelter, and everyday life.

I think the tour guide had read the Jared Diamond book about how the plants and animals that were originally in each area of the earth impacted the growth of ¨culture¨in that area. I thin it´s called "Guns Steel and .......". I really liked that book. The Americas originally had no animals that could be domesticated for agricultural or other work. Except for dogs and Llamas in the high mountains of South America.

Anyway. The Oaxaca garden is wonderful. And so are the Cathedral and monastery (now a beautiful museum) are really amazing. Even before people had arrived in what is now the U.S. gorgeous stone buildings were building built in was is now Mexico. And many of those buildings are still in use. I love it here. Even though I don´t love was the Spanish invaders did to the people of Mexico.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oaxaca Water Gardens

I love water in the garden. Oaxaca seems to be full of water "features". That's a phrase I don't care for, but I can't think of another one right now.
These are a few of the water "features" I remembered to take photos of. But almost every park had working fountains, and many were really lovely.
I was surprised to find out how difference the normal rainstorms are in Oaxaca, as compared to Chacala.This little garden, above, is in the entrance to a small office building. This rill, in the Oaxaca E-B Garden, faces the Museum in the San Domingo complex of very old buildings.Begun in the early 1500's by Dominicans. In Chacala it rains the same months, late June thru mid-October, but rainfall almost always happens at night. And there is often major thunder and lightning storm.According to people in Oaxaca, those kind of storms are unusual there. But the rainfall is much heavier, really drenching downpours. I was caught in one my first afternoon in Oaxaca. I didn't have my umbrella and was soaked before I got on a bus. This photo, with the brickwork, is in the Oaxaca's Ethno-botanical Garden. I took the photo from inside the adjoining Museum. This rill goes across most of the garden. I love how it looks.
I am trying to get more hits on my Chacala Rental website. This site supports local women with rentals who don´t speak English or use computers, or have a way to have reservations from English speaking renters.

Oaxaca Ethno-Botanical Gardens

Oaxaca, the capital city of the State of Oaxaca, in south- central Mexico, has a lovely 10 year old Ethno-Botanical Garden. It's located behind the beautiful San Domingo Church and the Oaxaca Regional Museum. The Garden is a large space, walled in with colonial-style walls. It is called an "ethno-botanical" garden because the emphasis is on the use the plants of the area have been put to, in the past and currently. The meaning of plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, succulents, cacti, etc in terms of religios meaning, food, medical uses, and everyday household uses, for example.The garden is closed to the public except for people who take the twice weekly two-hour tours of the garden. Cost is 100 pesos, about $9US. There are both English and Spanish speaking tours. I took the English tour, with Carol Turkenik. She did a wonderful job, and never stopped talking for two and a half hours. I think she could have shared her knowledge for days. It was very interesting, and a highlight of my Oaxaca trip.
The garden has a number of water features, including a buried cistern for the garden's water supply. The city of Oaxaca doesn't have enough water for the population, so the garden has a huge buried cistern, so it can be independent. Many of the plants are never watered, except for rainfall, but some plants require supplemental water, especially in the nursery area. The garden has a number of different areas: tropical plants, trees from arid areas, succulents, etc.
There are many succulents in the garden, but most of them were cacti. I am starting to like cacti more than before I moved to Mexico, but I like the spineless succulents much better.I liked the blossomng plants the best. I was surprised to see plants I think of as Hawaiian orgininaly came from the Oaxaca area. According to our tour guide, Oaxaca state was the origin for many many plants now growing all over the world.

If you want to see more photos of Oaxaca go to My Life in Chacala

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gardens in Oaxaca

I haven´t posted for more than a month, so I don´t know if anyone is still reading this. But I am visiting Oaxaca, in Mexico right now. When I get back to Chacala, I will have lots of garden posts. So if you are still checking in here, please check back. Thanks, Andee