Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Plant on Playa Chacala

Yesterday morning I walked over to the home of one of my favorite landladies in Chacala. I love the new palapa and grass turf at Mirador. The palapa, and two of the unit units overlook the ocean, with a short staircase and a 50 foot walk to the big beach.As I was walking home along the beach, I noticed a plant I didn't recognize, and don't remember seeing before. On a talk stalk, behind a fence, just off the beach.
It was growing just inside the fenced off area of a small home. Actually kind of a dumping area from the beach. The soil seems to be basically sand. I tried taking photos from different distances, and angles. And with the light shining from different directions. I read about doing that in a "Gardener Gone Wild" post a few days ago.
But, of course, my photos didn't look anything like the author's, . But it was fun trying. I looked thru my books, but haven't looked on the internet, to see what this place it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Moving Plants Around in Chacala

Here is a hibiscus cutting and four Kalanchoes and three Aloe Veras are sharing a space.
Probably not a good plan.

I have been gardening in this space where I live in Chacala for about eight or nine months now. It was hard for me to get started here. I had lots of plants from my old place. Still in pots. But I couldn't figure out how to plant them. How to arrange the gardening space.

The space was a strange mess, with no topsoil and several levels plus two small hillsides. It was hard to figure out how to get started.But my gardening consultant(works for frozen lime cheesecake pie), Sherry Merciari, from Oakland, California, came over from next door (she's here for a month each winter), and scoped on the situation in two seconds. She basically said to make planting areas tucked in the five different flat spots. And that's what I did. With the help of her son Freddie, the famous stone worker.

I worked on things for about three months. Making beds with low stone walls to hold the dirt in. And a little bit of terracing off the hillside. Freddie did most of that. You can see from these photos that the different types of plants are all mixed together: succulents and regular flowering plants, shrubs and Criniums, a papaya, a Noni, Desert roses and cacti and Bird of Paradise, a rose, and Gardenia, etc etc. Succulents in soil that was too rich and wet. But they mostly grew anyway. Some rotted.

But I kind of got discouraged the day I came home and found that my landlady's boyfriend hauled off all the 105 large rocks I had collected from across the road. To finish terracing the hillside. And he used them to make a wall......never mind. it's too annoying to talk about. Anyway.I kind of lost interest for two or three months. Partly because of the trouble I was having protecting my plants. From the malicious anti-plant behavior on the part of the male members of landlady's annoying family.But I am really back in gardening mode. Two trips to buy plants, three sacks of good dirt, and three containers of cuttings from plants I already have or that someone gave me. And lots of little pots of rooted cuttings. And some plants started from seed.
This past year I have been treating my three main (small) gardening beds like places to stash plants, rather than a "garden" with a plan and some thought about how would look. I was trying to figure out what the different plants need for sun/shade, poor soil/rich soil, water/not much water, etc. And being kind of lazy.
My first three years in Chacala I had gardened almost entirely in pots. And you can just drag them to another spot if they don't look happy, or even change to soil. So gardening in the ground in Zone 11 or 12 has been a learning experience.I am starting to move things around. It looks like I am going to have a larger (still very small) bed and some hillside for the succulents, including cacti, And three other area for lush flowering and and non-flowering plants. There is room for both sun lovers and shade lovers I think. For shade and privacy. And because some of them were already planted, from when I lived in this place three years ago.
Those beds are out closer to the road. Then there are two other beds right up near the house. They have been mostly nursery beds. For transplanting cuttings to after they root. And for sticking plants I don't know much about. There are two bouganvilleas, three plumbagos, and an oleander, payapa, rose, another Gardenia and four huge flowering Criniums, and some other flowering plants along one side of that area.

I think I am going to use two smaller bed areas just for young plants from seed and cuttings. I moved most everything out of those two beds today. Except for the oleander, plumbagos, and bougainvilleas, which are kind of big to move. And they look nice from from on the road.
(Above)This is a photo of a bunch of Desert Rose (Adenium Obesum) cuttings I put in a bucket of soil last spring and forgot about. Their roots are so tangled together, I just planted them as one big plant.

So the next time I go out there to garden, I am going to continue shifting plants around. And plant my last large purchase. Another Desert Rose that I am going to use as a cutting plant.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Seeing Chacala

I often sit on the sand of Playa Chacala early in the morning. I love to watch the sunlight move across the water toward me. I usually remember how grateful I am that I live in such a beautiful place. And that I can see something new every day. Well, really, I can see something new every second, if I stop to take the time to look.But this morning I was triply thankful for my good fortune. I was watching three little kids, maybe 5-6 years old. They were into the water as soon as the sunlight crept up onto the beach.
A woman, their mother I assume, sat on a little low bluff about 50 feet from them. Watching over them and smiling.Several times I noticed on of the girls holding the boy's hand. I thought they looked sweet together. It look me a awhile to realize the little boy couldn't see. And that she was guiding him. I never would have guessed until I saw him up close. And then it was obvious.He was running in and out of the water, on the the smooth sand, enjoying the little waves rushing in and receding. They sat in the water, waist deep and dug little holes in the wet sand. These children were so full of life. Enjoying the ocean and the sand and the sunshine.I walked home in a much different space than I was in when I arrived at the beach. I felt overwhelmed with how much there was to see.I kept looking at all the plants in buckets and containers, in front of every house and restaurant. Every one is different. And many are filled what I still think of as houseplants.
But they grow out in the open here, year around. And often under difficult conditions. Sea spray, not enough water, blasting sunshine, and drowning in the rainy season.The containers in front of the yellow wall are set on the little landing to the restrooms at Chico's. The plants on the staircase are on the step's up to Socorro's daughters little home. These plants filled this little empty restaurant. It's only open during Semana Santa and Feliz Navidad/Ano Neuvo, when Chacala is packed to the gills with visitors from the inland states of Mexico.This container was in front of Augustine and Ana's house. And almost every yard has a chili plant. This huge one is also in front of Ana and Augustine's .It was a nice walk home. And I really enjoyed looking at my new plants as I walked up there steps to my place.Somehow I had never noticed this little papaya tree up against a fence. A very usual sight in Chacala. A wooden fence. Wood is rarely used in building in this part of Mexico. Too many voracious wood-eating insects. But here's a little fence section I never noticed before.