Bougainvillea battles

Shot from upstairs terraza.

ONCE UPON a time, there was a cute little bougainvillea in a small, plastic pot. An idiot planted it into the ground.

That idiot was me.

Round about that same time, a nincompoop planted a nopal leaf — they’re called paddles — into the ground nearby.

The idiot and the nincompoop were one and the same, me. Flash forward about a decade.

The top photo shows the bougainvillea drooping over the wall toward the sex motel. This is good because it provides a grip on the wall. The only other thing supporting the bougainvillea are two, now invisible, steel chains I installed years ago.

My concern is the plant will collapse. I’ve seen it happen elsewhere. Then it must be removed, spines and all.

I bought that expandable ladder you see on the right, below, a few days ago. I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Gardener to do some serious hacking. The wall is about 13 feet high.


The maguey centered in the foreground of the bottom photo presents an obstacle for the positioning of the ladder, so I’ll have it removed too, including the stone circle at its base.

The nopal tree will be left in peace. I cautiously remove lots of paddles each year, those that insist on growing horizontally instead of vertically. In time, I imagine, it will simply collapse from its own weight. The “wood” is quite soft.

Moral: Do your homework before you plant, especially if you’re planting something with vicious spines and spikes.

This is doubly true if you reside in Mexico.

Triply true if you’re a nincompoop.

16 thoughts on “Bougainvillea battles

  1. Man, the Goddess sure has blessed you with fertile soil, señor! Any chance you are going to dump your remains there on the property as well? Gotta know where I should go to share a shot of Cuervo in your honor. 🙂


    1. Mark: I doubt the soil has anything to do with it. It looks like plain ole dirt to me. Most likely, it’s climate issues. As for where my remains will be dumped, I imagine I’ll be cremated, so perhaps I’ll be scattered around the base of the bougainvillea. You’ll have to ask my child bride for specifics when that dreary day dawns. But no time soon, I hope.

      I’m enjoying myself too much.


    1. Patzman: This brings to mind the old Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.

      Twist that around and apply it to bougainvillea: May you live in colorful times.


  2. Bougainvillea and maguey provide a deterrent to burglars and window peepers. Better to have the plants rather than the uninvited guest.


    1. Señor Gill: While that is quite so in the world in which you live, down here my deterrent is a very high wall all around, and it’s worked great so far. Another security element is the 24-hour hotel just next door. It’s great.


    1. Ray: The problem with taking a little off the top is actually getting to the top. That is why I bought the new ladder. But it also must be controlled horizontally from my side of the wall. If not, it will topple over in time.

      It is pretty. It’s also a huge pain in the butt … with sharp spikes.


  3. I had a battle with a bougainvillea in Florida before I moved to Mexico.

    The best remedy in the world for bougainvillea is a Mexican with a machete and a pickup truck to haul it away.


    1. David: Overnight freezes are fairly common in January and February, but we have gone through the occasional winter with no freeze at all. Even with overnight freezes, it warms up to the 70s fairly quickly on winter days. The overnight freezes are, to me, what keeps the climate here from being perfect. But it’s almost perfect, and you cannot easily ask for perfection in life.


  4. That bougainvillea is so pretty. Your wall is going to look snaked as the people next door in the sex motel.
    I just bought two pots each with one nopal paddle (spines removed). The sales lady tried to dissuade me, but they look like art, sort of heart shaped. The time will come to deal with them I know, but for now I’ll just enjoy them. Color me nincompoop too.


    1. Angeline: Yep, the bougainvillea is pretty, no doubt, and it’s just beginning to get cranked up for this year. As for your nopal, it is not going to do up there what it does down here. I planted one in Houston, and it never did squat. So plant away. You won’t be a nincompoop.

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  5. First thing I noticed, señor, was the nice crop of tunas you have on the nopal! As to the bougie? One would have thought a few, discrete wires nailed to the wall would alleviate any toppling concerns? A luverly problem.


    1. Dan: Yep, it puts out the tunas every year. The problem is getting to them. They’re about 13-14 feet off the ground, so …

      As for the bougainvillea, it’s got two steel chains attached to the wall in there somewhere. They have long vanished from view. It’s beyond the wire-and-nail stage.

      Abel the deadpan yardman came this morning and did some trimming of the bougainvillea, which is good. He also removed that maguey you see in the middle of the bottom photo. Completely gone, plus the stone-and-cement border around it. I’m cutting back, literally.


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