Cuttings of November

EVERY YEAR around this time I start to think of butchery.

The yard goes berserk every summer, you see, and as frigid winter arrives — it often freezes — things flip entirely in the other direction, leaving much of the yard dead, brown and butt-ugly.

aloeSome things you can just ignore, like the grass, but others must be dealt with. Topping this list are the three stands of banana trees, which must be whacked back.

The fan palm, which grows taller every year, must be trimmed. I think this season I’ll need a ladder, a first.

The two datura trees get cut back severely, but that’s pretty easy because they are very soft wood. The loquat tree is attacked, and there are two stands of some plant that grows wildly from bulbs.

I just eliminated one of the two this morning. Perhaps the second will fall tomorrow.

I’ll get Abel the deadpan neighbor who cuts the grass all summer to dig up this aloe vera bush you see in the photo. It’s gotten too big for its britches, elbowing way over onto the sidewalk.

We’ll still be prepared for the occasional burn in the kitchen, first-aid-wise, because there are three other stands of aloe vera in the yard. But they’re not butting onto a sidewalk, not bothering anybody at all.

polesWell into our 11th year at the Hacienda, the yard is big and beefy, not like the starter environment of 2003 when I cared for all with little effort.

Now, much has gone totally out of control, and I let it be.

I’ve long been a cactus man and could be happy living in the desert. Cacti did not feel at home at my house in humid Houston, back in the 1990s. That’s not the case here.

Look at these pole cacti. I planted a couple when they were just little tykes. They have multiplied, and are almost as tall as I am.

What you see farther back is a maguey that has shot up its death tree. When it “flowers,” it’s the last gasp, its death rattle. It will die, but it takes quite a long time to do that. In the meantime, it’s a conversation piece.

That’s all for now. It’s time to go downstairs and eat cereal. Then I’ll shave, bath and dress, drive to the market by the train station and buy tangerines. It’s the season. I’m a tangerine man.

16 thoughts on “Cuttings of November

  1. The yard is looking good, Felipe! Nice work (give an extra peso to the deadpan neighbor). Have a great weekend, my friend! Saluda your lovely señora from your Colorado friends!

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    1. Christine: The primary bloomers are the bougainvillea and the datura. I’ve included photos of them before and, no doubt, will again. Right now the bougainvillea are rather restrained, and the datura are winding down to boot. You can spot some bird of paradise flowers in the bottom photo, plus flowers of the aloe vera. That green profusion to the right of the cactus puts out flowers called bridal bouquets in Springtime, and they are really pretty. And they last a long time. But now, in fall, they do nothing floral. The nopal cactus tree at the rear, left, of the bottom photo puts out flowers every spring. It’s a nice environment.


  2. Your homestead is beautiful. But I have always liked your garden. In my new place, the plants are constrained to planters. Even so, they are small reminders of the expanse of your garden.


  3. Nice variation of cactus plants. I have small ones that give pretty yellow flowers. They last a day and then reflower the next. Being perennials I don’t have to handle them much except to trim them back each year. But those little spines tend to be deadly on one’s fingers.

    Yep, I like planters more and more. I grow tomatoes, hot peppers and many different herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme) in pots. Much easier to take care of. And they do just fine.

    Your garden, as always, looks lovely!


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