The garden tales

I FIND IT useless when people post photos of flowers. You can find zillions of flower photos online. No matter. Here I go.

Some readers may recall that last spring I butchered the monster bougainvillea that had lived in the yard for many years. Here is how it looked before the bloodletting. My child bride poses for the purpose of perspective. Both are beauties.

The before shot.

And here just below is how it look skinned.

The after shot.

And here just below again is how it looks today.

The today shot.

It’s about four feet high. The only reason it’s not bigger is that I maintain stern discipline. When the Hacienda was under construction over 17 years ago I foolishly planted five or six little bougainvilleas along the far wall. A couple died, a few did not.

Hearty survivors.

These are two of the survivors from 2002. They too are subjected to a heavy hand. The near one began to creep over the wall into the neighbors’ yard about five years ago, but I cut it back, and began applying discipline. Without discipline, a bougainvillea will make you his bitch. It can get quite ugly.

Oddly, of the original bougainvilleas from 2002, one is a different strain. It was unintentional. It looks different and does not want to rule the world. I like it.

A rare, polite bougainvillea.

That’s it behind the frog. It appears to be growing out of the frog, but it’s not. It’s planted in the ground. This bougainvillea is the only well-behaved one of the cursed bunch.

Speaking of curses, remember the monster nopal I removed back in October 2018? The neighbors planted at least two of those nasty babies right up against my wall — the property wall is mine, not theirs — some spell back, and now they’re topping the wall and likely will start creating problems before long, throwing their spiky fruits with red stain onto my grass. Here below you see the cursed things.

Mine grew about 30 feet high before I slashed it down.

A new development, alas.

Maybe some dark night, I should toss some plant killer over there.

Why can’t people be good neighbors? Perhaps you are thinking, Why don’t you speak with the neighbors? Because I know full well it would be useless. They are sullen.

15 thoughts on “The garden tales

  1. Felipe, Yes, I’ve learned whether it is plants, loud music or intruding pets/livestock, it is best not to ask the neighbors to fix things in Mexico. They are polite and say they will to your face, but usually nothing changes. You are right. I don’t really understand all that.


    1. Mike, P.S.: Oddly, when we first moved into the Hacienda, an earlier generation lived next door, same family though. The main couple were the parents of either the husband over there now or the wife. I don’t know which. All of them lived together. The older pair were really nice folks, but then they died and left the younger couple. Now we have them, a bigger pair of sourpusses you’d be hard-pressed to find.


  2. That seems to be one negative trait about Mexicans. They don’t think much about how their behaviours affect their neighbours. Whether it’s smelly garbage, unsightliness or loud parties, it seems to be a free-4-all. In some ways, that’s good compared to our tightly controlled societies through bylaw after bylaw. I would never buy property in Mexico because there is no saying what your neighbour might get up to. They could build a hotel, open up a cantina or a disco that goes until 3 a.m. You never know.


    1. Brent: Quite right. I think the powerful cultural trait of minding your own business, saying nothing, has lead on a colossal scale to the attitude that you can do pretty much whatever you want, and no one will complain, and they don’t. People take advantage of that, big-time, knowing no one will say anything. And if you do complain, you are ignored.

      I always think of that when hearing people, almost always foreigners, describe Mexicans as so polite. They seem polite in many circumstances, mostly when it comes to big smiles and backslapping. True courtesy, however, entails consideration of others. You will not find much of that down here.


        1. Brent: Always shown here on the right-side column. Octavio Paz: “A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.”

          As true today as the day when Paz wrote it.


  3. There’s a special corner of purgatory for people who vandalize nature like you. You should take a hint from your neighbors, and leave the damn vegetation alone. Maybe when this period of “Great Atonement” is over, you’ll reconsider.


    1. Señor Lanier: You sound like my wife. Have you been communicating with her behind my back? Have you gone straight? What one person calls vandalizing nature, a more sensible soul calls gardening and order. What would the gardens of the Palace of Versailles be without clippers and hoes? Who would want to visit it? If one wants to walk in the jungle, there are flights to Ecuador and buses into the green morass inland.


      1. I am a plant person. And it sounds like I may agree with your wife. Let nature be nature, cut less, not more. Don’t hack!

        So glad, especially at this time, I can sit inside and outside my house and be surrounded by beauty. Pretty flowers, green plants, even though here, it’s still cold, and my perennials have not flowered.

        It would be nice if most of Ecuador was jungle. And I’m sure it was at one time. Not anymore!


        1. Andean: Our yard is quite lovely. It just has far fewer obnoxious, work-producing plants than before. That seems like common sense to me. Even though my wife never wants to cut anything, she never volunteers to work in the yard either, an important consideration.

          I imagine Ecuador, like most tropical nations, is suffering plant loss. Not a good thing.


          1. All I know about Ecuador, really the Quito area, which is where my many, many cousins live, and a few aunts and uncles, is that everyone is in quarantine, and following it.

            I read Guayaquil, which is a port city, is in a bad situation. I don’t know anyone there.


  4. I hate to tell you this, but you are a plant abuser. The secret to good pruning is not what you cut off, but what you don’t cut off. Your lopping shears should be rescinded. The plant was beautiful as it was.

    You are turning your yard into Red Square with all of the concrete and paving. I know it is your yard, and it is your decision how to handle it, but sometimes we just have to be frank with people. We don’t want to hurt their feelings, but we just have to say something for their own good.

    And it has been my experience that when Mexican women like their plants, it is an extreme error to say anything to the contrary. Just say, “Yes, dear.” And don’t get any evil ideas about that nopal.


    1. Señor Gill: You are a funny fellow. Plant abuser indeed. The fact of the matter is that 99% of the plants I have removed are not appropriate for residences. They are the stuff of farms. Most have been fruit trees that toss out HUNDREDS of fruit, literally, most of which end up in the grass rotting. No, I do not want to collect and sell them on the street. Don’t have the patience, don’t need the cash. The exceptions to fruit trees have been monstrous maguey cacti that grow the size of houses, and they have vicious spikes, and bougainvillea that simply never stop growing, ever. They reach the size of skyscrapers if not tightly controlled. Some of these things were on the property when we bought it, and some were stupidly installed by me when they were small and cute, and I didn’t know better.

      There are plenty of plants still in the yard, lots, but they are not the troublesome sort. As for replacing grass, which is a Gringo tradition, with empedrado (stone and concrete), which is a Latino style, I do it for two reasons. One, I like the way it looks. Two, it’s far less bother, not requiring constant mowing. It does not resemble Red Square. It looks like a Mexican yard, as it should. The grass was here when we bought the double lot because the previous owner used it as a park and playing field. There was no house.

      As for the “Yes, dear” thing, your wife, sadly, has been Gringo-ized. She has lost her Mexican soul. Real Mexican women are wonderfully accommodating. The “Yes, dear” comes in my direction. I feel for you, but it’s too late. You have relinquished your grip. Sad.


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